Archive for March 2012


Mad City 50k Tomorrow

March 30th, 2012 — 8:55am

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Tomorrow’s Mad City 50k features a five loop course through the arboretum and around Lake Wingra. Thankfully, I know the course well—it’s a route I run all the time. You can follow the race at http://www.runrace.net/findarace.php?id=12105WI&tab=a5 (apparently they’ll be doing a live webcast that will include 10k splits). Training has been going well the last several weeks, but unfortunately I’ve had a severe bout of insomnia the last few nights. Not feeling the greatest today, but hoping some good rest tonight will put me in a better place tomorrow. Race starts at 9 a.m.!

2 comments » | Racing and Training

Six Spices Indian Cooking Class

March 30th, 2012 — 5:02am

march-2012-084Last week I took an Indian cooking class with Larry’s mom. The class was taught by Neeta Saluja, author of Six Spices: a Simple Concept of Indian Cooking, and held at Willy Street Co-op East. Cooking classes at the co-op are just $15 for members—and luckily I recently became a member. It was actually my very first cooking class. Ever.

Neeta made the following dishes during our 2.5 hour class (the  menu focused on the southern part of India):

  • Rassum (Hot and Spicy Soup) – simple yet delicious tomato soup, seasoned with fresh ginger and curry leaves.
  • Shrimp Curry in Creamy Coconut Sauce – marinated shrimp cooked with fresh ginger, garlic, onions and spices. Coconut milk is added later to give a rich creamy taste.
  • Saffron Rice – fragrant basmati rice cooked and flavored with Indian spices and saffron. This rice dish is mildly flavored, and makes a perfect dish to accompany Indian curries.
  • Fried Noodles Pudding (Sevinya Ki Kheer) – fine roasted noodles are simmered with milk and sugar. Later cardamom and fragrant saffron are added to give this dessert a wonderful aroma and taste.

The goal of Neeta’s cookbook and classes is to present a simple introduction to Indian cooking. The whole concept of her book revolves around using just six spices—mustard, cumin, chili, turmeric, coriander, and asafoetida. Indian cooking can seem so overwhelmingly complex, but she clearly has a knack for making it understandable and accessible for cooks of all levels.

I loved the class. It was so inspiring to watch Neeta move between dishes and the way she expertly worked with the ingredients—touching and tasting in an all-knowing way. Her patience, warmth, and down-to-earth attitude were endearing. And the aromas wafting off the pans were almost too much to handle! Thankfully, Neeta shared generous portions of each of the finished dishes with the class.  I loved them all, but especially enjoyed the soup and dessert. I took copious notes and hope to re-create the entire meal at home very soon. I can’t wait to take more cooking classes at the co-op. march-2012-082

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Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen, Madtown Lovin'

Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 3/28

March 28th, 2012 — 8:38am

march-2012-126One of the students working at today’s Slow Food UW cafe lunch told me she has four mid-terms tomorrow. I don’t miss those days. And yet, despite long to-do lists and looming exams before the eventual reward of spring break, the team from Slow Food let their creativity and energy shine as they put together an impressive Moroccan-themed lunch menu. I chose the following:

Rabbit b’stilla (Moroccan Pastry Pie) with ginger pesto
Carrol Salad
Moroccan Vegetarian Chili
Baklavah

march-2012-127All were good. I particularly enjoyed the crunchy Baklavah. It was also interesting to try the rabbit pastry pie. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had rabbit before—it was similar in look and texture to chicken. The ginger pesto was nice and the flaky pastries were fabulous. It wasn’t quite what I expecting when I read “pastry pie,” through—seemed more of a meat stew with a side of pastry. My friend Kim ordered the Sunchoke Sandwich on Hearty-Grain Bread with Sprouts. She was most impressed with the bread— still warm and fresh from the oven. I had a little taste and it was heavenly.

Comment » | Madtown Lovin', Restaurant Reviews

Spicy Cauliflower, Bok Choy, and Shrimp Stir-Fry with Coconut

March 28th, 2012 — 3:55am

march-2012-061Last Monday I was craving vegetables and a good stir-fry. I turned to a recipe I had found in a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living for Spicy Cauliflower, Bok Choy, and Shrimp Stir-Fry with Coconut. Luckily, I had most of the ingredients on hand and only needed to pick up fresh shrimp, cauliflower, boy choy and basil. Preparations were relatively easy, but  could be further simplified, as the recipe suggests, by pre-cutting the cauliflower and bok choy, deveining the shrimp and storing all in the refrigerator until you’re ready to stir-fry. I loved this meal with it’s focus on fresh vegetables and a subtle kick of heat and garlic.

Spicy Cauliflower, Bok Choy, and Shrimp Stir-Fry with Coconut (from Martha Stewart Living, February 2012)

1 tablespoon safflower oil
1/4 large head cauliflower, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/2 large head bok choy, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch strips (about 8 ounces)
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek or other Asian chili sauce, or to taste
1 tablespoon agave syrup
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
3 tablespoons unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower, and reduce heat to medium. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add bok choy, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a plate, and loosely tent with foil.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp, and cook until they begin to turn opaque, about 2 minutes. Flip shrimp and, using a wooden spoon, push them to one side, and add remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil to exposed area. Add garlic, and cook, stirring, until very fragrant but not brown, about 1 minute.

Toss garlic with shrimp. Stir in sambal oelek, agave syrup, and fish sauce. Add vegetables, and cook until heated through, about 30 seconds. Add basil, and serve immediately. Top with coconut flakes and more basil.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Iron Cupcake Madison

March 27th, 2012 — 6:05am

march-2012-116It didn’t take much convincing when my friend Julie invited me to join her for Sunday’s Iron Cupcake Madison event at the East Side Club. The ingredient “chocolate” was chosen as the group’s eighth challenge—not much of a challenge when it comes to cupcakes if you ask me, but I like chocolate and was excited to partake in the festivities nonetheless. And by partake, I mean eat lots of cupcakes.

This was my first time attending an Iron Cupcake Madison event. The regular events are hosted to “promote creative baking and eating, and in general: good times fueled by sugar.” Each time a theme or ingredient is selected, and bakers take their best shot at creating a winning cupcake. march-2012-122

Tickets are $10 each with proceeds benefiting Madison area non-profits (MS Society this time around).  Attendees are given an egg carton (which makes for the perfect mini-cupcake carrying case!), a ballot, raffle ticket, and three tickets to vote for a favorite in the following categories: Best Taste, Best Display, and Knocked My Socks Off! Each ticket is good for ten mini-cupcakes—which I quickly discovered was more than enough to fill my stomach with cupcake goodness. march-2012-119

With 22 bakers spread out at tables among two floors, it was difficult to choose just ten cupcakes to sample. My friends Julie, Stephanie, and I made our way through the event, mesmerized by the impressive displays, enthusiastic bakers, and beautiful cupcakes. Options included Dark Chocolate Amaretto Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache and Butterscotch Frosting, Blood Orange Bombshells, Mexican Hot Chocolate, Dirty S’more, Irish Car Bomb, and I Love Lucy’s Triple Chocolate Mousse.

After choosing wisely, we made our way outside to sit by the lake, enjoy the beautiful 70-degree weather, and feast on our ten mini-cupcakes. After enjoying just one, I asked myself, how am I possibly going to eat nine more of these? But, I did. My favorites were Mexican Hot Chocolate and S’mores. We actually spent so much time outside catching up and enjoying the afternoon sun, that we missed our opportunity to vote. By the time we headed back in, winners had already been announced and the bakers were packing up to head home. But no matter—they’re all winners in my book.

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Cupcakes!

1 comment » | Madtown Lovin'

Taste of the Market – 3/24

March 26th, 2012 — 8:48am

march-2012-097Saturday marked the much anticipated Taste of the Market Breakfast with Chef Tory Miller from Graze and L’Etoile, and Chefs Lisa Jacobson and David McKercher from Mermaid Cafe. The menu included the following:

Chili Slow-braised Local Pork Crepes (Vegetarian Option: Spinach and Mushroom Crepe)
Delightful House-pickled Vegetables
Sweet Potato Roesti
Farm-fresh Fried Egg
A Famous Graze Croissant
Choice of Beverage

The meal was prepared by students from the Chef in the Classroom programs at Sherman Middle and East High Schools, with proceeds benefiting the program.march-2012-096

The meal kicked off gloriously when students came through the line offering cups of coffee. As simple as it sounds, having a hot cup of coffee in my hands while I waited in line made my morning. Larry and I struck up a conversation in line with a nice guy, whom we invited to join us for breakfast. And then at our table, we met another really nice couple. The breakfast was great (although I could have used a little more “sweet” in all of the savoriness), but it was really the conversation with new friends that I enjoyed the most.

It was the last Taste of the Market Breakfast I’ll be able to attend this year, so I’m glad I went out with a bang. The outdoor season on the square begins in just a few weeks—April 21!

Comment » | Madtown Lovin'

Carrot Cake Pancakes

March 23rd, 2012 — 10:31am

march-2012-069Earlier this week I was inspired by a blog post by Deb over at Smitten Kitchen, who whipped up an amazing looking batch of Carrot Cake Pancakes. Fortuitously, I had  a pound of carrots in the refrigerator—which is somewhat rare for me, because I don’t like carrots all that much. But I had purchased them to use in an Irish Stew I made for St. Patty’s Day, and still had quite a few left.

So when Deb’s post came up on Monday, I was like, aha, that is what I will do with my remaining 3/4 pound of carrots. Because I may not like carrots, but I love carrot cake. And carrot cake pancakes? Yes, please. And so I took a day off from running Tuesday morning, and got up early instead to make pancakes! march-2012-072

The following recipe comes from Joy the Baker, who just recently released her very first cookbook. I also included Deb’s notes and tips (in italics), which I found helpful. Like Deb, I chose to leave out the golden raisins and walnuts, and grated the carrots by hand. And I agree with both ladies that the batter necessitates smaller pancakes. They were definitely tasty and unique. The dollop of cream cheese topping was a nice touch. I could only eat so many, so I brought the remaining pancakes to work, which were much appreciated—especially on a Tuesday morning.

Carrot Cake Pancakes (Originally from Joy the Baker via Smitten Kitchen; makes 12-16 small pancakes)

Pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (optional, I skipped them)
2 tablespoons golden raisins (optional, ditto)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups finely grated carrots (from about a 3/4 pound bundle whole carrots)
3 tablespoons butter, for griddle

Cream cheese topping
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Dash of ground cinnamon

Place a rack in the upper third of your oven and preheat to 200°F. This will keep the pancakes warmed as they’re fried in batches.

To make the pancakes: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and, if using, nuts and raisins. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in carrots. Stir carrot mixture into dry ingredients, stirring until just incorporated. Let rest for five minutes while you make the cream cheese topping.

To make the cream cheese topping: In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy and lump-free. Whisk in powdered sugar, two tablespoons milk, vanilla and cinnamon. If you’d like the mixture thinner, add the remaining tablespoon of milk (I did not).

Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a cast-iron skillet or griddle pan. Spoon 2 tablespoons batter into the hot pan per pancake (to me, this seemed like too little but after experimenting with larger pancakes, I advise you to listen to Joy; It’s a wiggly batter and much easier to and cook in small puddles), flipping once, until pancakes are golden on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer finished pancakes to a serving dish or tray in the oven, to keep warm while you repeat the process with the remaining batter, adding more butter as needed.

Serve warm with cream cheese topping.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Elton John at the Coliseum 3/22

March 23rd, 2012 — 4:34am

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Comment » | Madtown Lovin'

Slow Food Cafe Lunch – 3/21

March 21st, 2012 — 8:00am

march-2012-077It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been able to attend a Slow Food Cafe Lunch. Luckily, this week I had plans to meet my friend Julie. She was excited to come in from her job off-campus to finally check out the Cafe. We both chose the following options:

-Mac & Cheese
-Carrot Beet Pancakes
-Tomato Soup
-Ginger Cookie Sandwiches with Beet Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Ingredients were sourced from Don’s Produce, Hook’s Cheese, JenEhr, Family Farm, DaVALS Bison Meats, and Silly Yak Bakery.

Everything was quite tasty. I liked the texture of the tomato soup with rich stewed tomatoes topped with kernels of toasted popcorn. Julie and I agreed that our favorite dish was the carrot beet pancakes—wonderful flavor and color, with a dollop of rich creamy topping. I hope to try to recreate the pancakes at home. The ice cream sandwiches were also very unique and delicious. I can’t say I’ve ever tried beet ice cream before, and I’m not sure I would have loved it by itself, but sandwiched between two ginger cookies did the trick.

I’m happy to report Julie enjoyed her first Slow Food experience. It’s always an adventure! march-2012-079

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1 comment » | Restaurant Reviews

St. Patty’s Day 2012

March 21st, 2012 — 4:51am

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

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