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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Lefse!


This afternoon my mother, sister and a few friends got together to make lefse! Lefse is a Norwegian flat bread made with potatoes, milk, butter and flour often made and enjoyed during the holiday season. Lefse is typically eaten with butter, cinnamon and sugar but an also be filled with savory ingredients. I received a lefse making kit for my wedding which includes the necessary griddle, wand, rolling pin, hot glove and rolling pin sleeve. If you are interested in making your own lefse, the kits can be purchased at Ingebretsen's in Minneapolis. 

The recipe I have posted below was given to me to by my mom's friend who makes lefse all the time. This recipe was also used to prepare the lefse we cooked today, so I know it works great! 

LEFSE DOUGH
6 cups potato flakes (not buds!)
2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup flour 
2 cups boiling water 

Bring water to a boil. Add butter and salt. Pour flakes and mix with milk and flour. Mix until thickened, then take off heat and cool in refrigerator until cool. Then form into 2-3 inch balls. Cool again on plate with parchment paper until you're ready to cook.

Click below to see hoe lefse is made!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zDAOsgOt8Q


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Basil Spaetzle with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Cream Sauce


Last night I made a delicious spaetzle dinner. Spaetzle is a German egg noodle dumpling made with egg, flour and milk. I paired my spaetzle with a rich goat cheese and pea cream sauce, roasted butternut squash and sunflower seeds as garnish. I have made spaetzle only once before and found it fairly easy, so this time around I was frustrated that my batter would not push through my colander as described. I think I let my dough sit out for too long before boiling, so be sure to follow your recipe exactly. My spaetzle ended up thicker and larger than normal but still tasted amazing. If you are looking for a fun, unique recipe to try out, I highly recommend trying this one! 

Goat Cheese and Pea Cream Sauce
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp flour 
1 cup milk
1/2 cup goat cheese
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp dried basil
Pinch salt, pepper, clove

In small saucepan, heat butter over low/med heat. Add garlic and simmer, then add flour and whisk together slowly adding in milk. Once mixture is smooth, bring to a low boil. After boil, reduce heat to low and stir in goat cheese, peas and spices. Heat until thickened, then pour over spaetzle or any pasta noodle. 


Herb Spaetzle Recipe: 
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/herb-spaetzle-recipe/index.html

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Indian Matar Paneer


Mater Paneer is one of my favorite Indian dishes. The dish is made in Northern India and consists of peas, paneer cheese (farmers cheese) and tomatoes in a mix of spices called garam masala. Garam masala is a popular Indian spice blend of clove, cinnamon, pepper, cumin and cardamom. The recipe I used called for a cashew paste which helps to thicken the dish as well as adding a rich nutty flavor. Matar Paneer is typically served with basmati rice and naan bread. I added cilantro to my tomato sauce (not mentioned in recipe) because I like adding a fresh element. Follow the recipe to your taste and wow your family with a restaurant quality Indian meal! 

Click below for the recipe!

http://www.padhuskitchen.com/2013/02/matar-paneer-mattar-paneer-recipe-how.html

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sweet Corn and Smokey Bacon Chowder


This past week I made a large batch of sweet and smokey corn chowder, perfect for a cozy night in. I found the recipe online from the Barefoot Contessa's collection on the Food Network. I followed the recipe loosely, adding my own personal touch. For example, instead of using baking potatoes I choose to use the healthier sweet potato as a substitute. Instead of sprinkling bacon bits on top of the soup, I combined the bacon into the soup. I used smokey bacon ends from Trader Joe's to add a deep smokey flavor to pair with my sweet corn and potatoes. Lastly, I added carrots to the recipe for an extra element of texture and flavor. This soup is rich and elegant, you could easily serve the soup as a main dish with an accompanied salad and/or french bread. Don't forget to freeze any leftover soup for future enjoyment! 

Check out the Barefood Contessa's recipe by clicking on the link below: 

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/cheddar-corn-chowder-recipe/index.html

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chimborazo Restaurant


On Monday, I had the pleasure of dining at Chimborazo, an Ecuadorian restaurant on 28th and Central in Northeast Minneapolis. The restaurant is small and quaint with a handful of tables, colorful walls, and a pea-sized kitchen. It was clear to me after eating at Chimborazo that chef and owner, Marcos Pinguil prepares each dish to order with fresh, homemade ingredients. The cuisine is authentically Ecuadorian and features many traditional ingredients such as hominy, potatoes, and plantains. The atmosphere is casual and cheery, a perfect lunch spot. For lunch, my group shared the Churrasco with chicken, Enconcado with shrimp and Llapingachos con chorizo. My favorite dish was by far the Enconcado, shrimp stewed in a fragrant coconut sauce. The sauce is rich and sweet, almost like a curry cream. Plates are garnished with fresh, acidic red onion salads to cut the heaviness of most dishes. On the side, they serve a green sauce which is a fantastic condiment to most everything we ate. The sauce is made by blending cilantro, garlic and olive oil. The chorizo and potato pancake dish (llapingachos) was also very tasty. The chorizo was flavorful yet not overly spicy. The pancakes were fluffy and moist, packed with cheese inside. Another great sauce which accompanied the chorizo was a rich peanut sauce not to be missed. Lastly, the chicken and bean dish (churrasco) was just OK. The chicken was a tad bland, yet I enjoyed the beans and plantains served on the side. I would highly recommend this tiny gem! Prices are low and food is worth the drive out to Northeast ;)

Check out their recipe by clicking HERE

Friday, October 25, 2013

Crispy Shrimp and Cabbage Tacos

For dinner last week I whipped up simple shrimp tacos paired with red cabbage slaw, cilantro and avocado. I pan-fried the shrimp with panko breadcrumbs to create a nice crunch. I charred corn tortillas instead of using flour for the base. Corn tortillas have a nice bite to them and hold up well under heat. 

Turn the fall blues around with these summery colorful tacos! 

Red Cabbage Slaw
1/2 head red cabbage, shredded 
1/2 cup cilantro 
1/4 cup sliced red onion
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tbsp mayo 
1 tbsp sugar 
Juice of 2 limes 

Combine cabbage, cilantro and onion in a large bowl. In separate bowl, mix sour cream through lime. Then mix cabbage in with sauce and refrigerate. 

Panko Crusted Shrimp
2-3 cups raw shrimp
1 cup flour 
2 eggs
1 tbsp milk
1 cup panko bread crumbs 

Add flour in a shallow bowl. Next, mix eggs and milk together in another shallow bowl. Finally add panko to a third shallow bowl. Drudge shrimp into flour, then egg mixture and lastly panko. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat and add 3 tbsp olive oil. Add shrimp and cook on each side until panko has browned and shrimp are cooked through. 

Citrus Spicy Mayo for Shrimp
1/2 cup mayo 
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp sriracha hot sauce

Mix sauce together and serve as a condiment to your shrimp tacos. 





Saturday, October 12, 2013

Udon Noodle Stir-Fry

Oh the colorful bounty of a stir-fry. Purely vegetarian, this stir-fry will satisfy all of your carnivorous desires with thick and rich crispy udon noodles coated with fried eggs. The colorful vegetables alone will have you re-thinking your meat-craze. Udon noodles are Japanese thick wheat noodles often eaten in hot soup. I love the thick meaty consistency of these noodles for stir-fry's. They also hold up well under the high heat of a wok. 

Udon Noodle Stir-Fry
Serves 4-5

1 package dried udon noodles
2 large eggs 
3 tbsp sesame oil 
2-3 cups broccoli 
1 cup chopped green onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1 can baby corn 
1 cup cilantro for garnish 
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Cook udon noodles according to package directions. Set aside. In a large wok, add 2 tbsp sesame oil over high heat. Stir-fry broccoli through corn until cooked through. Pour cooked vegetables in bowl and set aside. In the same wok, add 1 tbsp sesame oil over high heat. Add cooked udon noodles and fry 2 minutes, stir and add 2 eggs in center of wok, then mix egg into noodles and fry another 3-4 minutes. Now pour vegatables back into wok along with the reduced sauce. Stir together and garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro. 

Stir-fry sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar or 3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp sesame oil 
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger 
1 tbsp freshly grated garlic
2 tsp chili oil 
1 Serrano chili, minced
1/2 cup minced red onion
1 cup chopped cilantro 

In small saucepan, add all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce over low heat for 10 minutes. 




Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fall Harvest Butternut Squash, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Pasta Bake

Fall has come around once again. Pumpkins are forming on house stoops, apples are in abundance and squash and gourds are painting the town in reds, oranges and yellows! I love cooking with seasonal ingredients so this butternut squash pasta recipe I came across in CookingLight magazine sounded superb! I followed the recipe fairly close with the exception of caramelized onions. I love the sweet and smokey flavor you get from slow cooking yellow onions and thought the onions would pair nicely with my sweet squash and smokey bacon. I also added seasoned panko breadcrumbs to the top of my pasta bake for an extra element of texture. I also garnished the top of my dish with dried parsley. 

Check out the recipe by clicking HERE, and share with me your own take on this classic Fall dish :)



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Herb Crepes with Squash, Green Beans and Cream Sauce

After visiting in France, I had a hankering to make crepes. Crepes are a thin pancake originating in France. They can be prepared savory or sweet and are typically filled. I made savory crepes blended with parsley to create a light herb flavor. I filled my crepes with roasted squash and green beans. I made a cheese sauce to drizzle over my crepes for a salty, rich note (made with cheese, butter, and cream). I garnished the dish with candied almonds to enhance the sweetness of the squash. 

You can fill your crepes with almost anything you want, just we sure to pair your crepe with a complimentary sauce. I have written out a basic crepe recipe below for you to experiment with! 

Basic Crepes
(Makes 15-20 crepes depending on size)

2 large eggs 
3/4 cup milk 
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour 
3 tbsp butter
(1-2 tbsp sugar for sweet, or blend in herbs for savory)

In a blender, pulse all ingredients together. Refrigerate batter overnight. When ready to cook, heat butter over medium heat in skillet and pour a small amount of batter into pan. Flip once crepe begins to bubble. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rachael's Dinner Table Travels to France!

Cheese Trio: Pesto, Pepper and prosciutto 
Steak & Potatoes with Bearnaise 
Steak Tartare 
That's Me Enjoying My Lunch! 
Beef Carpaccio
French Style Chicken Pot-pie with Melted Cheese 
Snapper with Mashed Potatoes and Chorizo 
Fresh Seafood Salad
Mussels in Provencale Tomato Sauce 
From Rachael's Kitchen: Egg Noodles with White Wine Herb Sauce, Goat Cheese & Lemon
From Rachael's Kitchen: Blue Cheese & Prosciutto Egg Scramble 
From Rachael's Kitchen: Pan-Seared Trout with Mache Salad, Pepper Relish & Roasted Potatoes 

My husband and I spent the first two weeks of September in France for vacation. We spent 3 days in Paris, 1 night in Aix-en Provence and 5 nights in a small mountainside village called, Bormes-les Mimosas located 1 1/2 hours west of Saint Tropez. I was concerned about getting around in a country not always known to be welcoming to Americans, having little knowledge of French. Luckily, the majority of our encounters were pleasant, especially in Paris where they must be accustomed to speaking English. It was in the south of France, especially the smaller villages where we encountered a few bad apples. 

I of course was especially excited to sample authentic French cuisine. The food we ate on the trip was good overall, but nothing I will remember forever. Thankfully, we live in a very cosmopolitan world where we can find any type, style or genre of world cuisine in our own back yards. The best part of eating in France is that everything is extremely fresh. Every town has at least one outdoor food market once a week where the locals buy all of their fresh produce. The French eat very little processed foods and rarely snack on candy bars and chips like we do in the US. 


My impression of the French after two weeks was mixed. They are prideful people, who live a slower paced life, savoring simple pleasures. I also observed the French to live a very structured life based on years of cultural expectations. The French live the 3rd longest in the world yet are known for eating rich foods and for smoking cigarettes like crazy... so what gives?? I have learned a few valuable lessons from the French lifestyle which may shed some light on this curious case: 

1. French people RELAX everyday. In most regions, the French take a lunch break from 12-2pm each day. Businesses close and people go home to relax and enjoy a long multi-coursed lunch. 


2. The French lead a STRESS FREE life by working less. France issues a mandatory 35 hour work week leaving plenty of time for travel and leisure. 


3. French parenting tends to be HANDS OFF. French parents demand more responsibility and independence out of their young children. As a result, parents have more time to themselves. 


4. The French DO NOT SNACK or eat on the go! Unlike Americans, the French allocate much of their day towards eating a meal sitting down with friends or family. Meals are sacred and enjoyed with guests. Meals are long, leaving no need for snacking throughout the day. 


5. The French eat a large mid-day lunch and smaller dinners and breakfasts. The French take advantage of their long mid-day break by eating a large lunch, often including 3 courses and a glass of wine. They eat smaller portions during dinner and breakfast, so as not to go to bed on a full stomach. 


6. Portions are smaller, yet satisfying. The French notoriously cook with loads of butter, cream and cheese. You will almost NEVER see low-fat, low-cal options on a menu. You might think this would result in obesity but that's quite the opposite effect. Obesity levels in France are extremely low. Because meals are satisfying, the French wind up eating less. They stand by the saying, "quality over quantity." If you eat low-fat, low-cal meals all day-long you're going to feel deprived and end up over-indulging! In addition, the french cook with whole foods, never processed foods which can be difficult to digest. 


7. They WALK A LOT. Especially in the bigger cities, having a car is not recommended. The majority take public transportation and walk or bike to their destination. Because people are not as rushed, they can take their time getting from place to place without a car. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Banana Chocolate Oatmeal Muffins


So apparently I am obsessed with making muffins this week ;) This afternoon I decided to use up some mature bananas by making a batch of banana-chocolate-oat muffins. There is nothing more delicious to me than the combination of sweet milk chocolate paired with the subtle sweetness and depth of bananas. I found this recipe on the Chobani yogurt website and fell in love. The use of yogurt in this recipe keeps the muffins extra moist and fluffy. I decided to add chocolate and oats to the recipe which created extra sweetness and texture. I would recommend you do the same! 

I hope you try this easy delicious recipe by clicking below: 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Molasses Raisin-Bran Muffins


Molasses is a viscous by-product of the refining of sugarcane, grapes, or sugar beets into sugar. Molasses has the consistency of honey and tastes fuller and earthier than sugar. Molasses is also more bitter and less-sweet compared with sugar or honey. In regards to nutritional value, it contains various healthy minerals and calcium. I made my own version of a molasses muffin by adding bran cereal, raisins and almond extract. Each muffin contains roughly 300 calories and is loaded to fiber, vitamins and minerals. Follow my recipe below:

Molasses Raisin-Bran Muffins

(makes about 2 dozen) 

2 cups bran 

3 cups milk
2 cups molasses
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tbsp almond extract  
4 cups flour 
2 tbsp baking powder 
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp clove
1 cup raisins  

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. In large bowl, combine bran and milk and let sit for 5 minutes. Then add molasses, egg, oil and almond. Mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients, flour through raisins. Slowly combine wet and dry ingredients together. Once mixed well, pour half of batter into muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove muffins from tin and place on drying rack. Repeat for second batch. Keep stored at room temp in air-tight container. Best served with a pat of butter or honey! Enjoy. 





Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pig Ate My Pizza

Cider Ham Rules 
Ray Charles 
Scallop and Rafael Pizzas
Scallop Ceviche 
Salt and Pepper Nugs 

Pig Ate My Pizza in Robbinsdale is truly unique among pizza joints. The restaurant is run by the owners of Travail, the former chef-fronted molecular gastronomy restaurant. The restaurant is located on a quiet street, in a sleep town... but inside, the restaurant is anything but sleepy. Myself and 9 other friends gathered early to the restaurant at around 5pm (arrive any later and you'll end up waiting for possibly hours!) Luckily, we got in right away and were seated at a high booth looking over the restaurant and kitchen. Music blasted old rock classics, decorative animals and nick-nacks clad the walls. The pizza kitchen is open and visible to the diners (always entertaining to see pizza flipping high into the air!) and all menu items are posted on chalkboards. 

Now getting to the grub... holy smokes this place is spot on delicious! Our group ordered 5 pizzas our server recommended to share alongside their scallop ceviche appetizer and salt and pepper nugs. The pizza crust is cooked napoleon style, thin and crispy. All of their toppings are extremely creative and inventive, for example the Ray Charles pizza features crispy kale, BBQ pork belly, peaches and mesquite smoke. My favorite pizzas were the scallop pizza, delicately presented with smokey bacon and butter sauce and the Cider Ham Rules, clad with homemade potato chips, shredded ham, black truffle and braised apple. When the pizzas are presented at the table, the chefs/servers whip out various "secret ingredient" spray bottles to spritz various flavorings atop the piping hot pizzas. If you ask me, the "spray" must have some intoxicating drug chemical inside because the pizzas are out of this world tasty!  

If you are looking for a new type of pizza eating experience, I highly recommend you try Pig Ate My Pizza, just be sure to arrive extra early to avoid a line. 



Saturday, August 3, 2013

Very Cherry Compote over Greek Frozen Yogurt

What to do with a bag of fresh cherries? Make a compote! A compote is a french term to mean fruit cooked in sugar. Compotes are made in a similar process to jams or jellies, except compotes do not contain pectin. Compotes are typically served over ice cream or crepes. To prepare compote, chop fresh cherries (without the pit) and reduce in a small sauce pan with sugar, lemon juice, a splash or cranberry or pomegranate juice and a pinch of salt to liven up the cherry flavor. Heat up compote before drizzling over your favorite ice cream! You're going to LOVE this sweet treat. 

Linguini with Triple Mushroom Ragu


Last night my husband and I invited friends over for dinner. I knew I wanted to keep the meal fuss-free, because who wants to be slaving away in the kitchen while entertaining guests? Not me! In an effort to conserve social time, I prepared my ragu sauce the day before so that when my guests arrived all I had to do was boil water for pasta and re-heat my sauce. Cooking a sauce the day before also tends to enhance the flavor. Overall the dish was a hit! Try my recipe out below for your next dinner party! 

Linguini with Triple Mushroom Ragu

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large white onion, diced
4 cloves freshly chopped garlic  
1 large can good quality chopped tomatoes in sauce
1 can diced tomatoes in garlic and olive oil 
1 cup fresh diced tomatoes 
2-3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper 

1 tbsp olive oil 

1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 cup sliced portobello mushrooms 
1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 cup freshly chopped basil 
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp onion power
1 tsp garlic powder


1 box linguini, cooked
Chopped fresh basil
Parmesan cheese 


In a large pot, add olive oil and onion over medium heat. Once onions are browned, add garlic and reduce heat to low. Add canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Bring sauce to a boil, then simmer on low for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in another fry pan, add olive oil, then mushrooms and sauté over medium heat adding spices until mushrooms have softened slightly. Now add mushroom mixture to sauce mixture and stir well. Add more salt or pepper as needed. Simmer all together on low for another 10 minutes. Refrigerate or serve immediately over cooked linguini, parmesan and freshly chopped basil. 


Friday, July 26, 2013

Best New Restaurant! Rincon 38

Cannoli filled with fresh lobster, crab, parsley, ricotta mascarpone cheese over a truffle-almond sauce
Crispy saffron poached cauliflower tossed with parsley and pimenton served with citrus aioli 
Slowly braised octopus served with patatas, citrus aioli, pimenton aioli, Spanish chorizo,
artichokes drizzled with sherry
Thyme crusted pork tenderloin served over potatoes and cauliflower in a manchego-chorizo sauce
Cardamon scallops served with a lemon beurre blanc sauce 
Oven roasted sea bass served over a vegetable-4 cheese polenta, baby spinach, fennel slaw in saffron sauce

Last night, I joined my family (pictured above) at the new tapas bar, Rincon 38 located on 38th and Grand in South Minneapolis. Chef and owner, Hector Ruiz is the brain child behind Cafe Ena and the former El Mason all located in South Minneapolis. Hector seems to enjoy the location as he is embarking on yet another new restaurant off 47th and Grand called La Fresca. Rincon 38 is a small restaurant on the corner with a nice sidewalk patch for outdoor dining. The decor is similar to Cafe Ena, simple with rich wood accents and warm lighting. The restaurant feels very comfortable, like a place you could stay for a while with wine and plate after plate of tapas. Tapas is a Spanish word meaning, small plate. Small plate dining has become very popular, because of its playful, communal nature. Dining with tapas allows guests the chance to sample and share a small amount of several dishes. Last night, my family and I sat outside and enjoyed several tapas from pork to cauliflower to scallops. Every dish arrived beautifully presented with colorful sauces and garnishes begging to be devoured. The creativity in presentation was impressive, but not as impressive as their prices! The plates are generous in proportion and extremely affordable. The sea bass dish for example costs $12, where most anywhere else you would pay nearly double for a fresh piece of sea bass. Now, cost and plating aside, the food is delicious! Every dish was finessed with elegance and subtlety. The fish and seafood dishes were my ultimate favorites. The scallop dish was incredibly tender and succulent, paired with a heavenly beurre blanc sauce with the slightest hint of lemon. The sea bass was cooked to perfection and paired with the creamiest polenta you'll ever have. Top that off with a savory and rich saffron sauce and you've got a winner. The cannoli on the other hand blew me away with its delicately crafted pasta and award winning truffle-almond sauce. The truffle-almond sauce was a true treasure. I highly recommend this precious gem for it's comfortable and warm atmosphere, kind staff, great prices and delicately delicious tapas.