Archive for April 2014


Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 4/30

April 30th, 2014 — 10:04am

DSC02632The worst part of today’s Slow Food UW cafe lunch was realizing they had sold out of the dessert just before I arrived. And not just any dessert. Sourdough crepes with raspberry jam and pink peppercorn whipped cream.

It was still a lovely meal. The theme of the menu was “spring cookout.” And despite the weather outside, spring was on display in each and every dish. I enjoyed the smashed lemony chickpea wrap with arugula pesto and goat cheese, and the spring green salad. My friend Claire, whose plate I photographed, also ordered the French potato salad, which had a nice olive oil dressing as opposed to a heavy mayonnaise version. Other menu options included a coffee-crusted pork BBQ sandwich on cottage dill bread, and a creamy fava vichyssoise. And of course, dessert. Those crepes are going to be on my mind the rest of the day.

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Ramps in Review

April 29th, 2014 — 4:03am

I picked up my first bunch of ramps at the farmers’ market this past weekend. The bulbs were quite small, so I debated waiting until the following week’s market to buy some, but in the end, I couldn’t resist. Ramps are only available for a few weeks each spring so the season is fleeting. If you haven’t tried ramps, they’re delicious. Known as a wild leek, they have a pronounced onion flavor that is great with eggs, pasta, potatoes, soups, salads and more. You can use the bulb, as well as the long, smooth green leaves. I’ve tried a number of different recipes the last few years, many of which I’ve included below. I put an asterisk next to my favorites. If nothing else, fry up some eggs and ramps. If you’re feeling ambitious, the ramp and goat cheese toasts are divine.

Galette with Mushrooms and Ramps
Fried Eggs and Bacon and Ramps*
Spaghetti with Ramps
Gnudi with Ramps and Morels
Pickled Ramps*
Spinach, Ramps and Provolone Pie
Pork and Ramp Dumplings
Ramp and Goat Cheese Toasts*
Ramp Risotto
Ramp and Mozzarella Pizza*
Pasta with Ramps and Cured Pork*

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Iron Chef Spinach Dinner

April 28th, 2014 — 6:57am

Left to right, top to bottom: gluten-free spinach cake; spinach and matzoh pie; spinach black bean brownies; Sevilla-style spinach and chickpeas; risotto with spinach and pine nuts; spanokopita; squash spaghetti with spinach pesto and red peppers; brownies with spinach, blueberries and flax meal; green smoothies.

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Dairy Roubaix Ride Report

April 25th, 2014 — 10:04am

10277646_10103074508851497_5533140650549480916_nLast weekend I participated in the Dairy Roubaix—my first gravel grinder. It was an unsupported ride from Wyalusing State Park put on by a husband-wife team that host challenging bike rides for friends in beautiful spots around the state. While the official distances were 54 and 107 miles, riders seemed to cover those and a variety of distances in between. Nearly 300 cyclists lined up for the roll-out on Saturday morning. Some people raced, others rode. I chose the 54 mile route and rode to finish.

Having not done much cycling over the winter, the distance itself was daunting. Throw in a bunch of steep hills and gravel roads on a CX bike, and that definitely upped the challenge. We rode with a pack of friends and teammates for about half the ride, then split off with a smaller group for the second half. The only water stop came at mile 26, where, despite warnings on the website of the contrary—“No snacky snack. Nada”—I was delighted to find animal crackers, bananas, and salty sunflower seeds for the taking. We were also lucky to have the most gorgeous spring day.

I loved the laid-back feel of the entire weekend. There was no registration fee for the ride—just an opportunity to provide a donation to help cover expenses. There was also a group camp site available, where we reserved spots in a bunkhouse along with 12 friends. I was instantly brought back to summer camp. On Friday night, there was a quarter barrel in the mess hall, and on Saturday morning, oatmeal and Kickapoo coffee were served before the 9 a.m. start time. It was also our friend Greg’s birthday on Saturday, so after the ride, we celebrated with plenty of food, beer and cake. Great friends, beautiful scenery, and a challenging bike ride—a perfect weekend in my book.1609809_10103074510573047_5871951290178925764_n

2 comments » | Racing and Training

Egg, Kale and Tomato Breakfast Wrap with Hummus

April 24th, 2014 — 6:32am

DSC02468Apparently this breakfast wrap is a frequent request of Giada De Laurentis’ six-year-old daughter. At that age, I think I was more likely to crave cinnamon toast crunch cereal for breakfast. Thankfully, my tastes have matured some since then.

For some reason, this recipe stood out to me among the dozens included in Giada’s latest cookbook. It was probably the poached egg that lured me in yet again. But I also wanted to try a recipe for homemade hummus, and figured it would go perfectly with this recipe.

I loved this breakfast wrap. Actually, we had it for dinner. Everything comes together so well—the yolks from the poached egg, the juices from the cooked kale, the hummus—to create such wonderful flavor. I made the wrap a second time and swapped in Swiss chard for the kale, and a fried egg for the poached egg. The possibilities of what you can swap in and out are endless. Some combination of greens, hummus, and an egg are all it takes.

Egg, Kale and Tomato Breakfast Wrap with Hummus (from Giada’s Feel Good Food; serves 4)

5 large kale leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 large shallot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
4 large eggs, at room temperature
4 (10-inch) whole-wheat tortillas
1/4 cup store-bought plain hummus (I made my own using this recipe)

Cut away and discard the stem from the center of each kale leaf. Coarsely chop the kale into 1-inch pieces. It will look like you have a lot of kale but it will cook down considerably.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, shallot, garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes, if using. Sauté until the tomatoes and shallot soften, about 4 minutes. Add the kale and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Toss with 2 wooden spoons until the kale wilts but is still bright green, about 2 minutes. Stir in the basil. Remove from the heat.

Fill a wide saucepan with enough water to measure 2 inches deep. Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat. Break each egg into a separate tea cup. Turn off the heat under the saucepan. Immediately slide each egg from its cup into a different part of the water (the whites will spread out). Let the eggs stand until the whites are set and the yolks are still very soft to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, using tongs, toast each tortilla directly over high heat until beginning to blacken in spots, about 15 seconds per side. Put the warm tortillas on plates. Spoon 1 tablespoon of hummus on each tortilla and spread to cover, leaving a 1-inch border. Divide the kale mixture over the hummus.

Using a slotted spoon, lift each egg from the water, wiping excess liquid from the bottom of the spoon with paper towels. Put the eggs on top of the kale. Slit the yolks and press on the eggs a bit so the yolks begin to run (this will make them easier to eat). Fold up the bottom of each tortilla and then fold in the sides, leaving the wraps open at the top. Serve.DSC02466

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Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 4/23

April 23rd, 2014 — 8:23am

DSC02550“Beet your way to spring” was the theme of today’s Slow Food UW Cafe lunch. From the menu options, I chose the crispy bacon cheddar sandwich on sprouted rye bread with spicy ranch, the beet and lentil salad with walnuts and feta, and the chocolate beet cake with peanut butter buttercream. My friend Claire ordered the vegetarian sandwich—cheesy egg and greens on sprouted rye bread with spicy ranch. And thankfully she suggested we swap half of each of our sandwiches so we could try both.

Beets are one of the many foods I wouldn’t touch when I was younger, but can’t seem to get enough of these days. The sandwiches were very good, although each could have used a little more salt. I really liked the spicy ranch, and I always fall hard for crispy bacon. The beet salad was excellent. I loved the flavors and textures from the earthy beets, the salty feta, and and the crunchy walnuts. The chocolate beet cake was a nice way to finish off the meal. Although the cake itself was a little dry, the peanut butter buttercream was amazing. It had a rich, peanut flavor and didn’t fall into the trap that most buttercreams do of being way too sugary and sweet. I savored every last bit of that buttercream.

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Pasta with Pancetta and Lentils

April 22nd, 2014 — 7:42am

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I love spaghetti straight up, but I also really enjoyed this spaghetti-like dish with bucatini, pancetta, lentils, and a simple plum tomato sauce topped with basil leaves. I’ve mentioned in prior posts that kimchi and poached eggs have taken leading roles in my cooking lately, and I would also add lentils to that list. Lentils add texture and heartiness to almost any dish. They give this tomato sauce a “meaty” quality I really like.

Pasta with Pancetta and Lentils (from Food Network Magazine; serves 4)

Kosher salt
12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 cup finely chopped pancetta (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 14 -ounce can lentils, drained
1 28 -ounce can whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
8 basil leaves, roughly chopped, plus more for topping
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs; drain.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 7 minutes. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the lentils, then add the tomatoes, 2 cups water, the basil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the sauce to a boil; cook 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Add the pasta to the sauce along with half of the parmesan. Season with salt and toss. Divide among bowls; drizzle with olive oil and top with the remaining parmesan and more basil.

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Soba Noodle Bowl with Sesame Dressing

April 21st, 2014 — 8:22am

DSC02520It seems like I’ve been eating kimchi nonstop lately. According to a recent article on Huffington Post, Kimchi ranks #10 on a list of the 22 Most Hipster Foods on the Planet. At least the author concedes that “Kimchi is amazing.” I love its heat and effervescent quality, along with the well documented health benefits. Recently we found a 64 ounce jar of kimchi at Yue Wah that seems to be the only quantity that lasts longer than a week at our house.

Somewhere along the way, I came across this recipe for a Soba Noodle Bowl with Sesame Dressing. It looked so beautiful with all of the vibrant colors from the kale, egg yolks and kimchi. I made this dish for dinner about a week ago and loved it. Luckily, the recipe makes extra sesame dressing, so I’ve also been discovering all kinds of uses for that.

Soba Noodle Bowl with Sesame Dressing (from I Will Not Eat Oysters; large serving for 1, dressing for 4 bowls)

For the sesame dressing:
1/2 cup tahini
1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp honey
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp warm water
1 tsp red chili oil (optional)
1 tsp salt

For the bowl:
1 bundle Soba noodles
1 scallion, sliced thin
1/2 cup kimchi
3-4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 cup kale, stems removed and chopped
1 egg
sesame seeds (garnish, optional)
olive oil
salt & freshly cracked pepper

For the sesame dressing: pour all of the ingredients in a mason jar and shake it up, or whisk together in a medium bowl.

For the soft boiled egg: Boil enough water to submerge your egg or eggs in a small pot. When the water is at a rolling boil, slowly and carefully lower the eggs into the pot with a spoon. Boil the eggs for exactly 6 minutes. Immediately dump the boiling water and let cold water run on the eggs for a few minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the eggs carefully. Set aside.

For the kale: Heat a little bit of olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Sauté the kale lightly for about 2 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.

For the shiitakes: Heat a little more olive oil in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add the shiitakes in one layer and season with salt & pepper. Sear for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.

For the soba Noodles: Boil according to package instructions. Drain. While the noodles are still hot, toss with 4 tablespoons of the sesame dressing. Season with salt.

For the bowl: Arrange the noodles in the middle of the bowl and then artfully place the kale, mushrooms, kimchi, scallions, and egg on top. Cut the egg in half and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top, and drizzle a bit more dressing on the noodles.DSC02521

2 comments » | Kristin's Kitchen

Mahnomin Porridge

April 17th, 2014 — 4:44am

DSC02494I love receiving recipe recommendations. That’s why I was excited when I received a comment last week from Nichole of Eating in Madison A to Z, who, after reading my recent post about sweet breakfast pilaf, recommended I try the iconic wild rice porridge from Hell’s Kitchen. Native-harvested, hand-parched wild rice from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibway simmered with heavy cream, roasted hazelnuts, dried blueberries, sweetened cranberries and pure maple syrup.

I was intrigued. It sounded like a dish that would make a great Sunday breakfast, so I found the recipe and gathered all of the ingredients, but substituted real blueberries for the dried ones (they were much cheaper, and it seemed like a little real fruit wouldn’t hurt). According to this blog, Mitch Omer, the executive chef and owner of Hell’s Kitchen in Minneapolis, was inspired to create the dish after reading journals of 19th century fur traders, who described a meal eaten by Cree Indians.

I love this porridge—it’s hearty and so, so delicious. I cooked the wild rice the night before so it was smooth sailing on Sunday morning. The fruit, hazelnuts, and especially the cream, make for an indulgent breakfast. And I just noticed that Hell’s Kitchen now offers Mahnomin Porridge Pancakes on their breakfast menu. Two hearty pancakes made with hand-parched wild rice, hazelnuts, blueberries and cranberries. Served with pure maple syrup. I might need to attempt those sometime, too. Thanks, Nichole, for the great recommendation!

Mahnomin Porridge (from Hell’s Kitchen; serves 4)

4 cups cooked wild rice
1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, cracked
1 cup dried blueberries (I substituted with a cup of blueberries)
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries (Craisins)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup heavy whipping cream (you could also substitute with coconut milk)

In a heavy, non-stick or enameled cast iron sauce pan, mix together everything but the cream. Stir constantly over medium heat for about 3 minutes.

Add heavy cream and, continuing to stir, heat through, about 2 minutes.

Serve immediately.DSC02489

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2 comments » | Kristin's Kitchen

Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 4/16

April 16th, 2014 — 11:38am

DSC02528Today’s Slow Food UW Cafe lunch featuring a variety of Asian cuisines was excellent. I chose the chicken and parsnip skewers on mixed greens with peanut sauce, the fried noodles, and the matcha and black sesame sugar cookie. All for $6.50. Other options on the menu included Jemput Jemput (fried dough patties) and skewered roasted veggies on mixed greens, lemongrass cashew rice with soy sauce, and egg drop soup. I loved the peanut sauce and parsnips on the skewers, and the friend noodles tasted similar to Pad Thai. I wasn’t sure what to expect with a green colored cookie speckled with black sesame seeds, but it was delicious and a very unique spin on a sugar cookie.

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