Archive for December 2013

Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 12/11

December 11th, 2013 — 9:34am

Everyone gets excited about a food project when Underground Food Collective is involved and this week’s Slow Food UW Cafe was no exception. Jonny Hunter from UFC was in the kitchen to manage this week’s food prep, and students from Slow Food UW assisted. I’m sure the students were more than happy to let Jonny take the lead, as most are probably frantically preparing for finals next week. I love that Jonny helps at the Cafe once or twice a year (usually at the end of the semester) to lend his talent to the organization and mentor students who are eager to pursue a similar career path.

The menu was simple: savory sauerkraut pancakes with crispy pork and a cranberry and yogurt relish for $6. There was also a vegetarian option available (the same dish but without pork) at the same price point.

When I walked in to the dining room at 11:30, it was smoky and chaotic—they seemed to be a little behind in setting up. Food delivery was also a little rocky. Instead of calling out names and delivering plates like usual, there was a different system where diners lined up to grab a finished plate off a staging table. It created crowds around the kitchen doors, and confusion among diners who are familiar with a different system. Luckily, the kitchen eventually realized it wasn’t going too smoothly and reverted back to the old  system.

Once I got my lunch, the smokiness and chaotic feeling in the dining room quickly faded away. Going in, I wasn’t expecting much. Sauerkraut pancakes didn’t sound particularly appealing to me. But it was hands down the best meal at Slow Food UW Cafe all semester. And there have been some great meals this year! The smokiness now imbedded in my hair and clothing is nothing. I will dream about this meal for a long time.

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Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

December 10th, 2013 — 1:56pm

DSC01024I recently had a hankering for macaroni and cheese, but wanted to try a version with butternut squash as an alternative to the heavy cream and butter in classic recipes. I found a recipe from Cooking Light that claims to make a “serious dent in the calorie and fat content of good old macaroni and cheese, while preserving the creamy comfort-food texture.” I wasn’t sure if it was possible for a “healthier” version of mac and cheese to come close to the real thing. But it was great—really creamy and delicious. You’d have no idea there was squash in the sauce if you didn’t know. The Gruyere, Pecorino Romano, and Parmiagiano-Reggiano create a powerhouse of flavor that make this dish especially tasty. It turns out you can get pretty darn close to the real thing.

Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese (slightly adapted from Cooking Light, September 2011; serves 8)

3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about one 1-pound squash)
1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1 pound uncooked cavatappi
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes.

3. Let the sauce cool for about 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt. Using an immersion blender, process until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyère, pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until combined.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt; drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

5. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture. Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.

6. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.

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Roasted Kielbasa With Apples and Cabbage

December 5th, 2013 — 9:48am

DSC00994Of all the recipes in the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living, I was most drawn to this dinner of roasted kielbasa with apples and cabbage. I love the simplicity of the dish. It requires very little prep work and the veggies develop wonderful flavor from a generous dressing of cider vinegar and caraway seeds, and plenty of roasting time. I love how beautiful it all looked together on a simple wooden cutting board. It makes for a nice family style dinner or a great appetizer platter, and is especially timely for the winter months. Whole-grain mustard is an excellent part of the spread.

Roasted Kielbasa With Apples and Cabbage (from Martha Stewart Living, December 2013; serves 4)

1 small red cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1 1/2-inch-thick wedges
2 small red onions, peeled and cut into 1-inch-thick wedges
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 small Gala apples (about 1 1/4 pounds), halved lengthwise and cored
1 1/2 pounds smoked kielbasa, slashed 1/4-inch deep in a few places
Whole-grain mustard, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the cabbage and onions on a baking sheet and coat with olive oil, 3 tablespoons vinegar, and caraway seeds; generously season with salt and pepper. Spread into a single layer and roast 25 minutes.

Gently turn vegetables. Add the kielbasa and apples (cut side down) to the baking sheet, keeping everything in a single layer. Roast until cabbage is crisp-tender and apples are tender and slightly collapsed, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar. Slice kielbasa and serve with vegetables, apples and mustard on a large platter or cutting board.

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Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 12/4

December 4th, 2013 — 11:30am

It was great to get back to the Slow Food UW Cafe after last week’s Thanksgiving hiatus. This week’s meal featured sandwiches and seasonal sides. I chose the sandwich with herb goat cheese and pickled beets on house made black bread. I also opted for the sesame kale mirin salad and the Mulligatawny—a lentil, garam masala and coconut stew. For the first time in a while, I skipped dessert. I know, I know. But I’ve been indulging in one too many holiday sweets, and it’s only the beginning of December.

The soup was great—I loved the curry flavor with a touch of heat. Thankfully my bowl arrived piping hot. That and the smooth texture provided the ideal reprieve from today’s dreary conditions. I also really enjoyed the kale salad. It didn’t look like much—just a bed of kale leaves, but it was lightly dressed with a mirin/ginger concoction that provided wonderful flavor. The goat cheese sandwich didn’t do much for me—it was fine, but not particularly noteworthy. The danish looked great. I can only guess they were also delicious.

It’s crazy that the semester is winding down so soon—I think there might only be one more Cafe lunch remaining before holiday break. And next week’s cafe is being hosted by Underground Food Collective. Might as well go out with a bang.

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Sons of Norway Frokost & Bakesale

December 3rd, 2013 — 7:37am

DSC00958I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to attend the Sons of Norway Frokost & Bakesale this past Saturday. It’s a bi-annual smorgasboard-style brunch/fundraiser held at the Sons of Norway-Idun Lodge on Winnebago Street. I learned about the event a few years ago. When I tried to attend that year, I had the date mixed up and arrived a week late. Bummer. This past Saturday morning, I suddenly remembered the event and looked it up. Good thing, too, because it was that day. Larry and I had just started eating breakfast, but we cast aide our bowls of cereal and grabbed our coats.

We arrived about ten minutes before nine (the official start time), which was perfect. We were one of the first in line. Brunch was $12/person and included a variety of traditional Norwegian foods such as herring, lefse, lingonberry jam, cheeses (like geitost, a caramelized goat cheese) meatballs and sausages, cold fruit soup, and wonderful breads, pastries and cakes. It was great to have a small taste of so many things.

Afterward, we hit the bake sale, which featured dozens of homemade baked goods. I picked out a dense, round almond cake and Larry chose butterscotch cookies.

I loved this event and hope to make it an annual tradition (the fall frokost is always the Saturday after Thanksgiving). I’m sure the spring event (usually in early April) is also worth checking out.DSC00941



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