Author Archive

Burned Leeks with Dill Cream Cheese

December 2nd, 2014 No Comments

  Another Faroe Island dinner delight. All I had was a blog photo from a dinner at the Faroe Islands restaurant KOKS and the deducing began.  Regardless of what their version actually was, these niblets may have been my favorite part of the dinner—this and the celeriac purée.  Fortunately there were extra burned leeks for snacking as we cleaned up the feast and sipped our sherry and aquavit.       It takes a zen approach in separating these leek layers intact…ease…don’t rush….    

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Star Anise Pickled Onions

November 19th, 2014 No Comments

  This is a stone tile creation by Scott of limestone and onyx.  A fun little bathroom design and another photo distraction to entertain—like the previews before the movies, sometimes they are the most captivating part of the show!     Speaking of star anise… A couple of months ago I heard on the radio (my main form of outer world communication these days) an interview with my former chef/teacher Lenny Russo at the Minnesota State Fair.  He made the comment that star anise is grossly overused in the

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Thanksgiving Flashback

November 13th, 2014 1 Comment

  I often trot through our nearby wooded parks and recently stumbled upon this fire pit.  Most of our trails were built by volunteers in the mountain biking community…can you tell?  Knowing some of this crew I would guess this pit will be used well into the winter months, for “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” …or at least from having fun in the woods with their buddies.  

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Savory Roasted Pears

November 4th, 2014 1 Comment

  My sister and I recently went to this display of Flora Metamorphicae, 4,000 flower sculptures created by six Norwegian artists.  The flowers travel the world and the displays are changing and unique to the surroundings in which they reside.  Each flower is different, some resemble natural flowers and some spring from the imagination realm of its maker.  All are incredible.     More images of Flora Metamorphicae                  .   This exhibit is

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Favorites October 2014

October 29th, 2014 No Comments

  I was able to spend some time at an amazing place last weekend.   Scattergood Friends School is a small boarding college-prep high school in rural Iowa that nourishes their students with both progressive academics AND an organic farm that produces much of the food for the school.  How cool is that?!?  Youth from around the country and around the world live together in community with staff and teachers: working on crews, harvesting, learning both in and outside of classrooms, cooking meals, eating together, playing,

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Potato Dill Soup

October 21st, 2014 No Comments

  October days are either stunningly orange with sunlight filtered through turning leaves, or it’s grey, rainy and chilled giving us a hint of the November to come.  This potato soup with a tang of buttermilk, yogurt and dill seed will not let you down during this season.  There is something about being cozy and eating hot soup while watching the squall outside that increases our appreciation for the warmth.     I’ve been buying up my winter supply of root veggies

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Plum Ketchup

October 14th, 2014 1 Comment

  (A visit to the Niagara Escarpment, more photos below…)     Close your eyes and open your mind to let ketchup become more than you think it is.   That red puree we think we know so well has origins in China (doesn’t nearly everything?!?) as a fish-sauce condiment called kê-chiap or ke-tchup (From slate.com “the syllable tchup—pronounced zhi in Mandarin—still means “sauce” in many Chinese dialects”) made from fermented fish and spices.  During centuries of its evolution the base ingredient of ketchup has shifted to salted anchovies, then soybeans were used in certain regions,

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Mini Eggplant Pizzas

October 7th, 2014 No Comments

  For the last month or two colorful eggplants have been brightening the palette of our local Farmer’s Market.  This picture of dazzling garden abundance is from my friend and photographer David Cavagnaro of the Pepperfield Project.  Color and shapes!  Many of these varieties can be used but the size and sweet flavor of the skinny Asian eggplants make them perfect for these little pizza bites.   Part of the nightshade family, eggplant are high in potassium, fiber, vitamin B’s and numerous phytonutrients.  Read more about their

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Cabbage Horseradish Slaw

September 30th, 2014 No Comments

    There are many versions of slaw, usually shredded cabbage and vegetables with a dressing or vinaigrette, sometimes sweet and sometimes with a pickled slant.  “Koolsalade” or “koolsla” (sla short for salade) was Dutch for cabbage salad, and we easily latched onto that term like we did so many times while forming this hodgepodge language called English. The farmer’s market cabbage has been awesome recently—they say that cabbage that can mature in cooler weather is particularly sweet, and the nights have dropped

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Tarragon Sugar and a Faroe Islands dinner

September 23rd, 2014 8 Comments

… Fresh tarragon with sugar was not my original idea, but reading it in a menu convinced me this was the meal I wanted to attempt to recreate for a Scandinavian dinner for my friend Dennis, the generous Dane who loves to host elaborate festivities. The Faroe Islands were the geographical highlight of this year’s feast, small bits in the North Atlantic between Norway, Scotland and Iceland, an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark.  Puffin, seal and whale blubber are common foods eaten there…but we

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Herb and Chevre Orblettes

September 12th, 2014 No Comments

  The Holiday Music Motel We were wandering around Sturgeon Bay looking for a place to stay since it appeared as though a storm was descending, and though we like camping…it takes real dedication to set up WHILE it’s raining.  Vacationland of Door County is host to a plethora of cabins, cottages, condos, campsites, B&B’s, hotels, motels, resorts, and it didn’t help that we are easily overwhelmed by choices, especially when tired.  The warm neon sign of the Holiday Motel

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Fassolada

September 4th, 2014 No Comments

  Another soup from the deli days. It was awesome in summer because the vegetables and herbs could be local and fresh, but also pretty tasty in the winter when you needed a substantial bowl of chow.  Fassolada is a Greek stew (sometimes called their national soup) made with white beans, tomatoes and other veggies.  I added feta cheese and tweaked it here and there…hearty and scrumptious.     Beans! My friend, musician, and market producer Hannah Breckbill gave me some heirloom beans that

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Favorites August 2014

August 28th, 2014 4 Comments

  On the way home from a conference this summer my sister and I stopped in at the house of a friend.  She proceeded to lead us around her town of Mt. Vernon to inspect milkweed leaves and search for monarch eggs or larvae that could be brought in for safer incubation.  A few hours later each of us packaged up a little critter and instructions on how to be a good foster parent to a monarch then went our ways homeward.

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Iced Nutmeg Cucumber Tea

August 22nd, 2014 No Comments

Nutmeg Iced Tea is great for a summer’s day, so here are photos of a divine location to relax with a glass—a gazebo co-created by Scott and metal-master friend Hung Van Pham.   This is the initial design in miniature, before it took an evolutionary turn to include metal.   The top…not in miniature   The frame upside down under construction in Hung’s shop, with bracings . Hand-beveled boards for the sides of the gazebo   The awesome stainless steel centerpiece hanging from the crossbeams   Looking

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Sweet Potato Falafel

August 6th, 2014 No Comments

  These orange lumps turned out to be great munchables.  We served them at an event as a gyro substitute with yogurt tzatziki, then the next day we ate them as leftovers, and the day after that I packed a few along for a road trip and they held up well to the trials of travel.  Moist, not quite as intense as falafel, easy because they are baked, and best of all… ORANGE…I am definitely adding these to the catering repertoire.    

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Beetroot Salad with Juniper Berries

July 30th, 2014 No Comments

  How is ‘beetroot’ different from a beet?  Not.   You’ve already heard me say what I’ve said for decades….beets are back.  They are back stronger than ever and people are asking for them—I even served a beet salad at a wedding last summer.  Don’t be afraid of your root vegetables.   I (not a Scandihoovian) was posed with cooking another ‘Norwegian’ dinner last April and I wanted intriguing flavors to share with the group….but not too interesting since most diners were in

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Carrot Flower Garnish

July 24th, 2014 2 Comments

  Maybe not something you do every night, but these gems are stunning on a plate.  I recently made these as a garnish for a wedding dinner to be set atop the saffron rice pilaf next to the pesto green beans.  Color!!  We eat with our eyes as well so why not occasionally feed our oculars a feast.   Accessorize. Garnishes are like the perfect pair of earrings, condensed nuggets of beauty. They are about enriching and augmenting, enhancement of the senses is a wonderful thing.  Adding contrasting

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Cucumber White Gazpacho

July 15th, 2014 2 Comments

  Before we get to refreshing cucumbers, here are more photos from the Willow Gathering in June.  These are from classes led by the two Danish instructors Ane Lyngsgaard and Eva Seidenfaden.         You can see the soaked willow on the floor in the background.               The booklet describes Baskets4Life, a group of Danish weavers that converge twice a year for one week to stretch themselves to new dimensions of their art and to thoroughly enjoy

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Stuffed Mushrooms with Caramelized Onions, Bacon and Gouda

July 8th, 2014 1 Comment

  The plan seemed doable. I wanted a photo of the stuffed mushrooms resting on a serving tray mere minutes before they would be introduced to the hungry post-wedding crowd.  Anyone who is or has been involved with catering or restaurants will know how incredibly funny that notion was.  Over and over I bring a camera to events telling myself THIS time I will have the presence of mind to snap the shutter at that moment the delicacies are perfect, and two moments before they vanish or become not so perfect. The

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Garbanzo Raisin Salad

July 1st, 2014 4 Comments

  My friend Robin gave me this recipe from the Real Simple magazine—she said that it has repeatedly been her potluck smash hit.  I made a couple of little changes, but not much.  Hearty yet lightly sweet-and-sour with a hint of cumin, this could do well in summer or winter.   All beans take a while to absorb the flavors of the marinade so it is a good one to prep ahead then add the greenery at the end.  If you’re starting with dry garbanzos,

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