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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. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Couscous Salad with Cranberries, Almonds and Green Beans with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

At the start of the work week, I try to make a healthy salad to snack on throughout the week. Yesterday, I made a simple grain based salad using Trader Joe's Harvest Blend which includes lentils, quinoa, orzo and Israeli couscous. I love the mix of textures in the blend, and the mix is prepared to cook all of the grains evenly, which could be quite challenging to do on your own. I incorporated almonds for texture and nuttiness, cranberries for sweetness and green beans for color and fiber. I added fresh parsley, garlic and honey mustard vinaigrette to boost flavor. Enjoy!

Couscous Salad with Cranberries, Almonds and Green Beans with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette 

1 package of Trader Joe's Harvest Blend

2 cups cooked green beans 
1 cup slivered toasted almonds
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2-1 cup fresh chopped parsley 

Honey Mustard Dressing

2/3 cup olive oil 
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2-3 tbsp dijon mustard 
2-3 tbsp honey
2 tsp fresh garlic
Pinch salt and pepper 

To prepare salad, cook entire package of grain blend according to package directions. While grains cook, whisk all ingredients together for your dressing. Add or subtract quantities of mustard and honey to taste. Once grains are cooked, toss in a large bowl with beans, cranberries, almonds, parley and dressing (pour slowly until well combined). Serve warm or cooled. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Asian Glazed Chicken Drummies and Brussels Sprouts

Good afternoon readers! Can you stand this weather? I am looking forward to a break from this heatwave of a summer. Because of the heat, I prefer eating lighter foods so this past week I made roasted asian marinated brussels and chicken drummies. I am a huge fan of roasted brussels sprouts, just so long as you don't cook them to death! Roasting the brussels gives them a sweet caramelized flavor. I found the recipe from a blog called Skinny Taste. 

Check it out below:

Monday, July 8, 2013

Quinoa, Kale & Chickpea Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

If you are looking for a healthy salad to pack in your lunch... look no further. This salad is fresh, healthy and beautiful. I used colorful ingredients such as tomatoes, red onion, green kale and herbs to create the perfect visual and taste balance. Kale is a part of the cabbage family and packs a punch with powerful vitamins and minerals such as beta carotene, vitamin K, calcium, and vitamin C. Quinoa is also quite healthy and considered to be a superfood. Quinoa is especially high in iron, magnesium and fiber. Lastly, chickpeas are high in protein, zinc and folate. If you are looking to enhance the flavor of a cold salad, be sure to use plenty of fresh lemon and herbs. Lemon also helps preserve the vegetables so that they last longer in the refrigerator. Enjoy this recipe as a meal or bring along in your lunch box for a mid-day boost! 

Quinoa, Kale & Chickpea Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
(serves 8)

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water 
1 can rinsed chickpeas
2 tsp olive oil 
1 bag pre-washed kale, or 4 cups
1 cup water 
1 large tomato, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
Juice of 4 lemons
Pinch salt, pepper and garlic powder

Bring 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil in saucepan, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, add 2 tsp olive oil to large pan, then add kale plus 1 cup water and cook covered over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove lid and cook another 3 minutes, or until water has evaporated. Once kale and quinoa have been cooked, set aside to cool. In a large bowl, add diced tomato, onion, chickpeas, herbs, lemon juice and seasonings. Mix well. Now add quinoa and kale to bowl and stir in dressing. Add as much dressing as you like (if you follow dressing recipe, you should have 1/2-3/4 cups dressing left for future use). 

(makes enough for salad, plus 1/2 cups extra)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp brown sugar 
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Pinch salt and pepper 

Blend all ingredients until thoroughly incorporated. Keep refrigerated in air-tight container. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Truffled Pappardelle with Portobellos and Arugula

First blog in a while, so dig into some deliciously rich egg noodle pappardelle pasta. I used truffle oil in the pasta sauce to enhance the flavor of the meaty portobello mushrooms and  peppery arugula as a bed for my pasta to lighten up and balance out the butter and parmesan in the sauce. Enjoy the recipe!

Truffled Papperdelle with Portobellos and Arugula
(serves 3-4) 
1 package Trader Joe's Egg Noodle Pappardelle Pasta
1-2 cups sliced portobello mushrooms 
2 tbsp truffle oil
2 tbsp chopped basil 
2 tsp oregano 
1 tsp thyme
2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
Pinch salt and pepper   
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup Parmesan
2 cups arugula

Cook papperdelle pasta according to package directions, reserving 3 tbsp pasta water for later. In a large sauce pan, add truffle oil and portobellos and sauté with basil, oregano, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper until lightly browned. Once mushrooms are browned, add butter. Then add cooked pasta with remaining pasta water and toss together with parmesan. Serve in bed of arugula and enjoy!