Monday, August 31, 2009

My New Favorite Recipe Website

So, you have always used King Arthur's flour for all of your baking and cooking needs, but did you know that they have their own website? And that, that website has a section for recipes, and that they all sound delicious. I have my eye on the coffee cakes, but I am not sure what to try first. Let me know if there is anything that you have tried and is a "must-make".

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My trip to Minneapolis

Recently I traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the first time to meet my mom for a girls weekend of shopping, dining, talking , and city exploration. I did not realize how close I was to this big city, right under a four hour drive. This was both my mom and I's first times to one of the Twin Cities and I have to say I thouroughly enjoyed it. Minneapolis has everything that all of the great big cities have, but they still retain their midwest character.

On our first day, Mom and I took to the streets and to the skyways that line downtown and Explored Nicollet Mall. This area is not really a mall, but a street or promenade if you will, that is lined with shops, restaurants, and businesses.

During the beatiful summer days that we were there, people were outside everywhere, dining, drinking and enjoying the long awaited beautiful weather. From May 1 - Oct. 31 on every Thursday, there is a Farmers Market along Nicollet Mall. Much of the produce sold is homegrown and organic. You can buy fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers and meats.

We explored and shopped for a bit and stopped for dinner at a fabulous french restaurant, called Vincent a Restaurant.

Everything was delicous here, but I must say the appetizer that I had of the Veal Sweetbreads with a sweet corn risotto and tomato butter sauce, was one of the best things I have ever had. It was a great dinner to end a wonderful day.

The next day we had to conquer consumer heaven and shop at the Mall of America. So we geared up for it by having an awesome breakfast at a local diner, called Key's cafe. There are evidently a few locations in Minneapolis, but we were at the one downtown. I shied away from the larger than life Cinnamon Rolls, which looked heavenly, and had a supberb veggie omelet with freshly squeezed o.j. and a smile, which was delightfully unexpected for diners.
The Mall of America is a task that needs some planning if you want to get it all done in one day, but if you map out your points of interest and stick to the track, never getting wrapped up into the inside playworld that is every child's fantasy and every parent's nightmare, you will be fine. So "sticking to the track" we shoppped for hours and hours, and seven hours later we emerged from the Mall of America unscathed and with some new clothes. Of course Nordstrom's shoe and makeup department were my favorites, but I also discovered this store called, The Afternoon, that is full to the brim with amazing cards and gifts for every person in your life and they have a website, so I can shop them from home. If you have any energy left, which I didn't, there is also an IKEA across the street from the Mall. That night we went back to Nicollet, because it was such a beautiful evening and dined Al fresco at Zelo, a modern italian restaurant with a passion for Art.

It was splendid and everything on the menu reflects what Mineapolis is becoming known for, which is a healthy and more natural and organic approach to farm fresh foods.
Minneapolis, was also hosting three Art Festivals on the weekend we were there, so we made it Uptown to also check out the festivities and see a favorite artist of mine, Dolan Geiman
The next day we ventured out a bit and went to the city of Edina. Minneapolis has so many unique little cities amongst the city, and Edina is one of them. At the neighborhood surrounding the intersection of 50th and France are many quaint shops, restaurants, boutiques, coffee shops, etc... that have a cool historic and unique vibe about them, but also very urban and hip. There was the best cooking store there called, The Cooks of Crocus Hill. I bought the awesome crocs for making French Onion soup there that I always wanted, but the greatest thing about this store was that it was a venue for crop sharing and a drop off point for local farms. You could order free heritage turkeys, specialty french tri-color chickens, wild boar, and the list goes on, not to mention the produce. They also hold a cooking class here once a week.

We ended our trip with dramatic contrast. First cocktails at the new and completely modern Cosmos, at the Graves 601 Hotel and then Dinner at Oceanaire, and old school staple that has fish flown in fresh daily, that feels like something remeniscent of the "the good old days."

It was truly a wonderful time and I had a great time catching up with my mom, which for me was the best part of the trip, but I also fell in love with Minneapolis. On the way home I even stopped by two roadside famer's markets and picked up some of the delicious produce and jarred creations that Minnesota had to offer, but I'll still take the cold here, at least it's a few degrees warmer.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tomatoes... the possibilities are endless

My garden has been popping lately with all kinds of things, but my favorite vegetable of the bounty is tomatoes. I love tomatoes and used to eagerly look forward to the Creole Tomato season in New Orleans, but there are many kinds of wonderful tomatoes out there, and many ways to use them in cooking. So more recently I have been trying to invent my own recipes, using my new favorite book called, The Flavor Bible.

The Flavor Bible lists by alphabet every naturally found food that exists and gives you flavor pairings, great combinations, and even certain great recipes from top chefs, on what compliments the certain food. I have been using this now "religiously" when cooking anything and have come up with some great recipes. Recently, I cooked with Kohlrabi for the first time and came up with a gratin that was out of this world. But with my tomatoes I experimented some and came up with this creation:

Baked Green Tomato Napoleans with Spicy Tabasco Remoulade Sauce

I have not gotten to the part of actually writing down the recipes as I make them, so that will have to be my next goal, but I did coat the Tomatoes in Grape Seed oil, salt, and pepper, and then dredged them through a mixture of Panko, parmesan cheese, and fresh basil. I then broiled them until they were crispy. For the layering of the napolean, I used herbed goat cheese- (whatever herbs were available in my garden) and mixed them with goat cheese, then layered that with between three tomatoes and broiled that some more. The remoulade is really where I lost track of what was put in it, sorry. If you have any interesting tomato recipe suggestions, please send them to me. Thanks and happy cooking.