I have always loved an old fashioned supper club. I used to visit a place in Wisconsin called Simpsons. They had the best relish tray. The tray came with olives, radishes, carrots, celery, pickled briny herring and they had a bread basket with crackers, breadsticks, butter and a cheese spread. I want to start a movement to bring back a decent relish tray. In fact I encourage relish tray conversation and emails at email@example.com on my continuing quest to try all the remaining relish trays in the Twin Cities so feel free to weigh in.
In the 651, we are lucky to have a few great historic classic steakhouses with Mancinnis and the Lexington. More recently we were treated to the homey and delicious Joan’s in the Park. My latest stop is a place that has been around for a while, but it had been awhile since I visited, so I went for a refresher course at Bennett’s Rail and Chop House at 1305 W 7th Street.
At first glance it’s hard to tell what to expect from the non-descript small yellow building on W. 7th in the middle of a neighborhood. I could not decide if Bennett’s is a neighborhood bar or a steakhouse and I decided it is decidedly both. The bar takes up about half the space in the place but the restaurant has white tablecloths. The tiny ladies room had pink tile throughout and reminded me of my own 1940’s St. Paul bathroom. We noticed lots of tables chatting each other up. It seemed like they truly were neighbors or regulars back for another visit. Our server was outstanding. She told us about the house favorites including many of the staples you would find in steak houses like the tenderloin tips served with either béarnaise or a horseradish cream sauce or the crab cakes with lemon aioli and the classic “chop” chef salad. Also on the menu were favorites you might find in your neighborhood bar like braised short rib sandwich piled high on a French roll or the juicy Lucy or the juicy Juanita with spicy pepper jack cheese.
For Cocktails you will find a straightforward wine list and a “his” and “hers” cocktail menu. His list included the Manhattan, the Rob Roy and the Rusty Nail while hers featured the Cosmopolitan, the Appletini and the Lemon Drop. Sexist maybe, but I thought it was cute. They even had a classic cocktail on the menu named after our own Prince. The drink is the “Purple Rain” with Bombay gin, Absolut vodka, Bacardi Rum and Jose Quervo tequila with Chambord and sweet and sour – if that doesn’t make you feel like being chatting and neighborly perhaps nothing will.
Our server helped us select a few menu items that we really enjoyed. We started with the pan seared Asian scallops off the appetizer menu and they were seared perfectly and served atop some mixed greens with an Asian pan sauce that was light, salty and sweet. There were 4 big scallops for $13 which I thought was also a good value. We moved onto the dinner salad which was perfect for a steak house side. Thick blue cheese dressing atop a dinner salad with bacon and black olives and a fluffy potato roll with butter pats on the side. My husband had the Little Charlie’s grilled tenderloin sandwiches that I am sure are named after the famous Minneapolis steak house Charlie’s Café Exceptionale classic steak sandwich. This was really a nice sandwich. The tenderloin morsels were well… tender and smothered in caramelized onions that were buttery, silky and salty and the petit buns they came with were just right. I was also pleasantly surprised by their crispy fries. I think you can tell the mark of a chef that cares by the fries they serve and these looked hand cut and were delicious crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and salty. I had a filet topped with a horseradish crust which was also really tasty. The meat was a tender cut and the horseradish crust was spicy, crispy and browned and very generous in proportion to the meat.
Throughout our meal I couldn’t help but notice the ladies at the table next to us. They were partaking in the $32.95 per person all you can eat crab legs that is a huge special at Bennett’s on Friday nights. This table of ladies look like they had a lot of catching up to do and they were there when we sat down with a plate of crab legs and they were there when we left with more crab legs and a pile of spent crab carcasses. They were clearly having a great time.
The service was efficient, helpful and friendly and much unexpected. I really feel like the service in restaurants in general in the Twin Cities is very average. We were treated great at Bennett’s. Our experience at Bennett’s was made better by the service. Our server offered menu suggestions, promptly had water and drinks refilled, checked back on the temp of our meat before the meal was over and offered desserts – I know it seems simple but many places miss the easy things and our server hit it out of the park. A bad server can make a good meal bad. A good server can make a mediocre meal better. If you can hit it out of the park with service and the food is better than to be expected, as I felt it was at Bennett’s, then it’s a home run for everyone!
Bennett’s Rail and Chop House
W. 7th Street
St. Paul, MN
In St. Paul you are likely to stumble across some places that may not be what you think. This happened to me when I entered Lulu’s Deli on 1626 Selby Avenue in St. Paul. I had heard that there was a convenience store selling delicious gyro sandwiches on Selby Avenue. Mixing convenience items with a sandwich shop must make good business sense. There are plenty grocery/sandwich shops scattered throughout the Twin Cities. Joes in Minneapolis is a personal favorite. I guess pairing sandwiches and grab and go items makes some sense so that was what I expected when I hit Lulu’s Deli. What I found was a corner store with a few frozen food coolers and a few dry good shelves but other than that this was mostly like a sandwich shop with the added bonus of smokes and lottery tickets.
When I arrived, the gentleman at the counter explained that you grab a menu, order at the counter, then have a seat and they bring you your food – fair enough. From there I waited for my gyro with saffron rice and salad. I asked what other type of specials people liked from the menu and he suggested fish tacos, the fair burger which is a classic juicy Lucy topped with fried onions, pickles and you guessed it – cheese curds. There are saffron chicken wings which looked like your typical wings but they are served alongside a spicy pink sauce which I suspect is a Sriracha mayonnaise! Other items that looked really great coming out of the kitchen were a hummus platter, fries tossed with parsley and sea salt and the falafels looked small and delicate and crispy.
My gyro basket arrived and I was really pleasantly surprised at how good my sandwich was. The lamb was super tender and flavorful. The sauce was cucumbery cool and refreshing and there wasn’t too much or it which can sometimes happen with gyros so the meat taste gets overwhelmed. This sandwich had the perfect meat to cucumber sauce to vegetable ratio. Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce rounded out my sandwich. I had a nice side salad with balsamic vinaigrette and big chunks of tomatoes and cucumbers and the saffron rice was accompanied by a dollop of cucumber tzatziki sauce.
This place felt right at home in the neighborhood. I will definitely go back to try the tabouli salad and the falafel or… to buy some milk and cereal or a lottery ticket when I happen to be in the neighborhood. The young people that run the place are very social media savvy and you can order online and have your meal delivered and they do catering as well. If you find yourself in Merriam Park – check it out.
1626 Selby Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55104
Everybody loves pizza. My husband learned to make pizza on the grill about 6 years ago. For most grilling season heralds big fat pieces of sizzling red meat (oh yes we have those too) but many days at our house you will find us at the grill with a pizza stone. My husband’s pizza is flat and crisp with a light hand on whatever topping we are having so you can really taste the crust. We have pesto, tomato or an olive oil and garlic “sauce” and we use lots of fresh herbs and a variety of cheeses when we grill pizza.
My husband’s pizzas are so good that it had ruined the idea of going out to pizza for me. I have a hard time paying for something that I know he can make a thousand times better at home. This all changed when we discovered Black Sheep Pizza Coal Fired Pizza at 512 N Robert Street in St. Paul.
Black Sheep Pizza is amazing. The coal burns extremely hot in their coal fired oven giving the dough a beautifully crisp, thin, flat slightly charred crust that is really a delight. This is the pizza crust that my husband strives for on the grill. Pizzas come in 12 or 16 inch and a 12 inch easily feeds two people – a 16 inch 4. You can order your pizza to your liking with the usual suspects for toppings but you will also find some unique toppings like oyster mushrooms, meatballs, capers, pickled peppers and smoked mozzarella.
The signature pizzas at Black Sheep are very well thought out combinations. My favorites are the number 4 which is the ricotta, meatball and garlic and the number 5 which is fennel sausage, cracked green olive, onions and salami. The ricotta at Black Sheep is puffy and light and makes salty little clouds on that beautiful crust. The meatballs on the meatball pizza are dense, juicy and hefty surrounded by the ricotta clouds it’s a great combination. The green olive, onion and fennel sausage has delicious chunks of fennel flavored sausage accompanied by the brine of the green olives it’s another great combination. The Olives are firm and fleshy too not those wimpy, soggy, olive rings you find at most pizza shops. The red sauce at Black Sheep is used sparingly. It does not overwhelm the toppings or the crust and is sweet with hints of basil.
Black Sheep has some other must have items so it’s best to go with a crowd so you can try lots of things. I really love the ricotta cracker appetizer. They make their own crispy crackers in the coal fired oven and the ricotta spread on them is heaven. Each day they have oven roasted vegetables that caramelize in their hot oven to just the perfect tenderness. They serve roast vegetables as a side or you can usually find them in the Fresh Market Salad which is literally a salad of the moment from the local farmers market. I have had real gems here like potato and arugula salad with tarragon aioli or a roasted fennel salad with goat cheese and roast beets and carrots with various cheese and lettuce pairings that often make their way onto the menu. The salads are dressed perfectly and come in a big stainless steel bowl with tongs meant for sharing.
Black Sheep has a location in Minneapolis too at 600 Washington Avenue N in the North Loop but I really like the St Paul vibe best. The service is super friendly and there is a come as you are feel that sometimes can be lacking in the trendier Minneapolis Black Sheep. Table waits are short but easy with counter service on beer and wine. The local beer list is a perfect complement to their pizza pies. My only wish for Black Sheep is that they would offer some dessert. I can only imagine the tarts, chocolate chip cookies, and dessert pizzas they could get out of those ovens!
Black Sheep Pizza
St Paul, 512 N Robert Street, Saint Paul MN,55102. 651-22-SHEEP
Minneapolis, 600 Washington Avenue N, Minneapolis MN, 55401. 612-342-COAL
Like many of my foodie friends, I eat too much. I am not one of those people that can pass on a dessert tray or a second glass of red wine. I eat out 4 times a week or so and it can be hard to control portion sizes and ingredients in your food unless you have cooked them yourself. My strategy is to eat as whole as I can when I do not have reservations. Monday through Friday I hit the gym at Lifetime Fitness on 2145 Ford Parkwayin Highland Park St. Paul.
The Highland Lifetime Fitness had a renovation a few years back. As a part of that renovation, they added a new food concept, called the Life Cafe. The Life Cafe bills itself as good, healthy, food, fast. Their entire menu has calorie, protein, carbohydrates, fat and fiber counts broken down for each item so you know exactly what you are eating. The menu boasts no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or trans fats so it is very easy to eat whole and clean here.
Menu items at the Life Cafe are fairly simple. I like the Huevos wrap which takes all your favorites like refried beans, eggs, and cheese and cilantro salsa and tucks them in a wrap. The harvest turkey wrap uses the same concept tucking cranberry mayo, apple, turkey, Swiss cheese, tomatoes and mixed greens in a wrap. There are the straightforward deli sandwiches which make generous use of very flavorful remoulades and mayos mixed with herbs and spices to amp up the flavor without as much fat as a sandwich spread. Every day there is a fresh made soup and your usual salad suspects like Cobb, Chicken or my favorite grilled salmon salad with tomato, cucumber and parmesan cheese that is finished with a cilantro remoulade. Each day there is a $4 breakfast and smoothie special as well as a $5 entrée so you can get by pretty inexpensively here for a grab and go lunch or breakfast. Smoothies are a big seller and they have all the extra protein powder and healthy mix-ins you would expect. On the days I am at the gym, I will grab a fresh salad for lunch. This helps if I have a dinner planned as I can control my calories on the front end of the day knowing that I will load up towards the end.
This leads me to my favorite Life Cafe salad. It is a simple Asian Tuna salad that I eat for breakfast about two days a week. It has 336 calories and packs 21 grams of protein to start your day but more importantly – the salad is super tasty. It starts with tuna mixed with carrot shreds, craisins, mayo, sesame seeds, sesame oil, green onion, cilantro, ginger, soy sauce, chili powder and sambal olek – the super red hot spicy Asian paste. I know, you’re thinking tuna salad for breakfast? That’s crazy talk. However, this is just the right amount of salty and sweet to me this salad highly addictive. I told fellow foodie, Kathie Jenkins from the St. Paul Pioneer Press how addicted to this salad I was. She thought that this is the salad that David Fhima created for them that was on the menu at LoTo. Loto is long since gone from Lowertown but if you remember this salad and were lamenting its loss – you can find it at the Life Cafe. David, if you did create this salad – THANK YOU and please put it on your menu at Faces in MearsPark!
I have developed a friendship over the last year with one of the very nice Life Cafe employees and she offered to write down the salad recipe for me. Just like any other restaurant recipe, it sometimes takes making it a few times to get the proportions of ingredients just right. This recipe has been tested by me and is darn close. This salad is great on its own, on a bed of mixed greens or tucked into a wrap with some spinach. Warning, this recipe makes a lot so I usually half it.
- I cup mayo
- ½ cup sambel olek
- ¼ cup sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 2 tbsp. ginger powder
- 1 ½ tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. sesame seeds (they use black, white is fine if that’s what you have)
Whisk all these items together then add:
- ½ cup craisins
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ½ cup shredded or dices carrots
- ½ cup finely chopped green onions
- 1 pouch or two large cans white albacore tuna
Hand mix all ingredients.
Life Café Highland Park
2145 Ford Parkway
Each summer, on my Saturday radio show Weekly Dish, 1-2pm on MyTalk 1071, it seems like we get the question:
“What are some creative sides to serve with grilled meats?”
I generally work with a grilled vegetable and a salad as sides for grilling. If I am having a crowd I may have two salads. I like grilled lettuce like radicchio or romaine grilled Caesar salads as I think they are really pretty on a platter and something unexpected. I also love bean salads and will sometimes mix the beans with grilled vegetables. Lastly, grilled vegetables themselves can be the star of the show when drizzled with balsamic reduction or a tarragon aioli.
Try these great sides next time you fire up the grill:
Pea Shoot Pesto Pasta Salad
Pea shoot Pesto:
- · 1 large bunch pea shoots/vines, roughly chopped
- · 4 cloves garlic
- · 1/3 cup grated parmesan
- · 1/3- cup olive oil
- · 1/4 cup pinenuts or walnuts could be used too
- · zest from one small lemon
- · 1 /2 tsp. salt
- · 1/2 tsp. pepper
Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend to desired consistency
- · 1 box cooked orzo pasta or Spaghetti noodles – really any pasta will do
- · 1 cup fresh peas or 1 cup frozen peas
- · More parmesan cheese to taste
- · Cherry Tomato halves for garnish
Mix well and sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and chopped cherry tomato’s halves before serving.
White Bean lemon salad
- · 2 14.5-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed well
- · 4 Tbsp chopped red onion
- · juice of one lemon
- · zest of two lemons
- · 2 teaspoons white wine or champagne vinegar
- · 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- · 1 teaspoon fresh mint
- · 1 teaspoon parsley chopped
- · 1 zucchini chopped
- · 1 tsp salt
- · 1/2 tsp pepper
Chop the vegetables and combine with the dressing.
I mix the dressing separately so I can add the exact amount that I need without making it too runny.
Serve on a bed of arugula or spinach and add grilled tuna or chicken
Grilled Romaine Caesar salad
Hearts of romaine – split down the center. I plan a wedge per person I am serving.
Brush each half of romaine with some olive oil
French Bread cut into rounds. I use two rounds per person. Brush Olive oil on each round on both sides.
Grill the lettuce cut side down until grill marks form and remove.
Grill bread rounds on each side until grill marks form and remove.
Lay lettuce on a platter or assemble on a serving plate. Place the French bread grilled rounds on the lettuce.
Top with the dressing and shreds of parmesan to garnish made with a vegetable peeler.
- · 1 1/2 tablespoon mayo
- · 1 tablespoon olive oil
- · 1 teaspoonDijonmustard
- · 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- · 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- · 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- · 2 anchovy fillets or 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
- · 4 cloves garlic
- · 1/4 cup olive oil
- · Salt and freshly ground pepper
Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. If too thick, add a little water.
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Serve alongside grilled vegetables as a dipping sauce.
Last Saturday, at the farmers market in downtown St. Paul, I discovered a new vendor who made me as excited as my grandma’s cookies. I had one of those grandmas that wore an apron in the kitchen. When my grandma Bea wasn’t at her nursing job, she was in the kitchen cooking. She baked fresh donuts and was a master cookie maker. I can remember hugging her and literally smelling a poof of flour that escaped from that well-worn apron. My grandma made fresh strudel and kringle that I can still close my eyes and almost recreate the taste today. I am not a strudel maker so my family has been strudel-less.
No longer will my family lack strudel! I found the strudel mecca at the farmer market in St Paul. Rhuland’s Strudel Haus makes strudel that they call “love on a plate” at their bakery in Eagan. You buy them frozen and bake them at home. Savory strudels set you back $20 while sweet strudels are $15. At the market they run a special where if you buy two strudels you save $10. One strudel easily would feed a family of four if you added a green salad as an accompaniment. Sweet strudels would make a perfect dessert size for 6-8. Each strudel is about 15 inches long and they look like giant white French bread loaves but they are frozen solid. You bake them on parchment paper for about 45 minutes and they come out flaky, golden and crisp. The sweet strudel varieties are what you would expect with apple, blueberry, strawberry rhubarb and cherry but they also have fig honey and goat cheese and ginger pear. There are many savory versions. Before we got to the market, they had already sold out of the savory three cheese burger and spinach feta artichoke which left us to choose from Reuben, Italian stallion, much burrito, brat and kraut, buffalo chicken and chicken asparagus alfredo among others. My family picked the chicken pot pie.
“Love on a plate” is a great way to describe these tasty strudels. When you cut into the flaky pastry strudel the first thing you notice is the wisp of steam that escapes. Inside our pot pie there were chunks of grilled chicken, pearl onions, carrots, peas and green beans. All of this goodness was enrobed in delicious chicken gravy that spilled out of the strudel. The strudel was really delicious. It was buttery and flaky and there was lots of crust to filling ratio. The ingredients tasted fresh and the veggies were large enough to add flavor and heft without becoming an afterthought to the chicken. The chicken itself had large pieces and the meat was real chicken chunks that tasted good – no pressed meat here. I was so mad I didn’t get the special so I could try a piece of the sweet strudel too! Next time I am at the farmers market I will pick up a few of these as it was an easy quick dinner. When they use the tag line love on a plate – I can concur, they mean it.
In addition to the farmers market in St.Paul you can find Rhuland’s Strudel at Goldens Deli in St. Paul and at the winter market. You may even run into Rhuland’s strudel truck at various county fairs and markets. Can the State Fair be far behind?
Rhulands Strudel Haus
St Paul Farmers Market
290 5th Street East
I have discovered a fabulous product that I think should be in all local pantries. Every few weeks I go into the Golden Fig on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul. They have the finest single piece chocolate selection in Saint Paul and I am always interested in what new products local proprietress, Laurie Crowell has found. I was wandering the isles when I ran across the salted caramel sauce of my dreams.
The Golden Figs salted caramel sauce contains Castle Rock heavy cream and Hope Creamery butter. I mention these two facts because I have always heard that to make an amazing product you need to start with the best quality ingredients you can find. If there was ever an example of this, it is the salted caramel sauce. Castle Rock is a single-source certified organic farmstead which makes cream from their own herd. Hope Butter is from Hope Minnesota where they churn out butter the old fashioned way in small hand crafted batches. Add to all that goodness, corn syrup, vanilla beans and chocolate salt and you have the best sauce for Ice cream I can imagine. Sweet with a hint of salt and a buttery, creamy finish make this sauce wonderful. The consistency of the sauce is perfect and thin enough to drizzle out of the jar on ice cream, profiteroles, crepes or cakes. The sauce itself is complex and sweet with just the right amount of salt that keeps you coming back for more. When I buy this sauce it has a way of disappearing quickly. Often times I will find the jar in my kids bedroom with a spoon – it is that good.
790 Grand Ave
St Paul. MN
Each Saturday from 1-2 p.m. on Mytalk 107.1, I have the pleasure of talking about food, on my radio show the Weekly Dish. A few weeks back we got to spend time with James Beard Award winning chef Alex Roberts who was recognized for his culinary work at Brasa and Restaurant Alma. Chef Roberts has a real commitment to sourcing local ingredients. He donates time to support Youth Farm Market that engages 600 kids from 5 neighborhoods at 15 different farm sites. In West Saint Paul, there are four farm sites and a year round greenhouse located at Cherokee Heights Elementary School, all run by kids and volunteers. At these sites kids learn about farming and the value of putting healthy food in their bodies. Chef Roberts has children himself and sees the value of teaching kids to cook with healthy ingredients and enjoy the family meals.
Nothing says family meal more than Brasa on Grand Avenue. Brasa is really proud of the fact that nearly 100% of the meat, dairy, eggs, flour, sweet corn and cornmeal they serve is produced in Minnesota, Wisconsin & Iowa on small family owned farms and cooperatives. Many of their ingredients are organic or sustainably raised and they feature local vegetables including those from Youth Farm Market.
Brasa started in Minneapolis and opened a second location on Grand Avenue a few years later. Chef Roberts has a simple mantra for Brasa; He only serves food that his family would eat. Because of this philosophy many of the items at Brasa are served family style. At Brasa you can order any of the meats and add sides that will feed a few or a group depending on the size you order. Brasa has something for everyone including localvores, vegetarians, people that are gluten free and of course kids. The restaurant has lots of kid friendly favorites including macaroni and cheese, cornbread with honey butter, cheesy grits and rice and beans. I will admit. Brasa is one of my favorite restaurants to go to with my family on a weeknight.
I love braised and smoked meat and Brasa does them really well. My favorites are the roasted chicken with a Creole style dry rub or the slow roasted pork with garlic and lime. I also love their smoky braised brisket with barbecue sauce. You can really taste the smoke in their meats and they smell so good as you lift them to your lips. The barbecue sauce that tops the beef is sweet, smokey and zingy. The fried catfish with a seasoned cornmeal and rice flower crust is excellent. The breading is heavy but you don’t mind because it is so flavorful and tasty and crispy. The chicken is cage-free and naturally raised without hormones or antibiotics as is their pork and beef.
Eating with a vegetarian for lunch or dinner? You cannot go wrong at Brasa. The black bean fritters or fritter sandwich is one of the best black bean burgers in town. It’s crispy on the outside and moist on the inside with a spicy hit. The texture is great either alone or on a sandwich with chipotle mayo. The spicy masa corncake with cheese is topped with some pickled onions and a bit of cheese so it’s light, crispy, salty and sour all in one bite. Other favorites of mine are the macaroni and cheese, creamed spinach and the cheesy grits which really shine due to the high quality organic cornmeal in them that give the grits some substance without them being too thin or gruel like. The guacamole is a must for the table with house fried chips and if you are lucky enough to find the brussel sprouts on the menu that are roasted with lime, salt and garlic and topped with pickled ginger get them! This simple dish is one of the best things I have eaten all year!
777 Grand Ave,St Paul,MN
The Saint Paul Farmers market is one of my favorite places to spend time on the weekends. I love that all of the products are actually grown, produced or handcrafted here. I know when I visit the various stands that the person I am talking to most likely procured the food they are selling me. Each time I visit I am getting seasonal, fresh ingredients.
My first trip to the farmers market, on opening weekend yielded herb plants for my garden, bedding plants for my flower beds and some perennial plants for an area of the garden that I expanded this season including Jack in The Pulpit and some unique variated Hostas. The farmers market is a great place to get your plants as you will only find products that they have grown in our area so you don’t have to worry about buying something for the wrong garden zone that might not last through one of ourMinnesotawinters.
Along with my flowers, I found a new discovery, Brook Pine Trout from Todd Thomas of Brook PineMinnesota. I first bought this trout from the refrigerated section of Golden Fig in St. Paul. I could not resist that pink meaty flesh that looked so plump and tasty in the package. I had roasted it with salt and pepper on a piece of parchment paper at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes until the flesh was firm to touch. I topped my filet with some wild ramp butter and it was so clean and fresh tasting I was thrilled. I ate fish every day that week on salads, on top of a bed of arugula sprinkled with lentils and goat cheese and in a trout salad with lemon, chives, and diced red pepper that I ate on crackers. I was thrilled to find the same Brook Pine Trout at the Farmers market and to talk to Todd himself. When I asked where Brook Pine is he told me it was near Grantsburg and PineCity and that it was home to less than 200 people. I happily bought another 2 lbs of trout filet’s and have been on week two of my trout binge.
Try it for yourself!
Smoked Trout Spread
1 lb smoked trout picked clean of bones
1/3 cup celery
¼ cup cream cheese
1/3 cup light ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice and zest of a lemon
½ teaspoon hot sauce
½ cup green onions – both white and green parts
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped dill
1 teaspoon horseradish
Pulse first 6 ingredients in a in food processor until mixed. Hand mix remaining ingredients. Serve on crackers or with celery sticks.
As a gardener, I always have a fresh crop each spring of pink, rosy fat rhubarb stalks. Rhubarb looks like a celery stalk but it’s pink and looks a little wild with its huge green leaf. I had already made Rhubarb Strawberry crisp, Rhubarb muffins and was running out of rhubarb when I hit the market to refresh for the annual Rhubarb Custard Pie that we must make every year.
Rhubarb Custard Pie adapted from the Betty Furness Westinghouse Cookbook 1954
Make the dough:
1 ½ sticks butter cut into chunks
3 cups flour
6-8 tablespoons water
- Cut the stick of butter in half the long way and slice again into about 14 chunks
- Put the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse 8-12 times more.
- With the machine running pour the ice water tablespoon by tablespoon into the feed tube of the processor and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form into a ball.
- Dump out on a board dusted with flour and gather into a ball
- Refrigerate 30 minutes or freeze 15 minutes
- Cut the dough in half
- Roll each piece on a well floured board into a circle about 12 inches around making sure it doesn’t stick to the board (alternately you can roll between two pieces of parchment paper)
- Fold the dough in half and place in a deep dish 9 inch pie pan and unfold to fit in the pan
- Roll the top crust
- Cut into strips about ¾ inch wide to create a lattice crust
- You will refrigerate the strips until ready to use and weave them over and under each other to create a lattice crust.
Make the filling:
6 cups of rhubarb cut into ½ inch pieces
Dump into the rolled crust mounding the rhubarb
Make the custard mixture:
Mix together the following ingredients
- 4 beaten eggs
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1-cup brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
Pour the custard over the rhubarb
Add the lattice top
Bake at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes
Let cool for 20-30 minutes before serving so the custard sets up.
290 E 5th Street
There is nothing cozier or more comforting than a giant bowl of homemade baked macaroni and cheese. My mom would make us macaroni and cheese when we were sick at home with a winter cold. Hers was filled with elbow macaroni and colby jack cheese and she would top it with saltine crumbs that would brown in the oven and create a crisp crust that you would shatter with your spoon while getting the creamy layer of cheese and noodles beneath. There is nothing good for you about macaroni and cheese as its loaded down with butter, milk, and cheese but oh does it make you feel good.
When the wind is whipping outside or it’s a rainy blustery Spring Day in St. Paul– make baked macaroni and cheese. I make mine with whole wheat noodles so I can pretend It’s reasonably healthy. If you want to make it a complete meal, versus a guilty pleasure, add some sliced cherry tomatoes with bacon, ham or prosciutto. If you have lots of dribs and drabs of leftover cheese feel free to add them. You can use Cheddar, Goat, Blue, Swiss, Jack even hunks of cream cheese can be thrown in the sauce before you mix in the noodles.
- 21/2 cups milk (low-fat is fine)
- 1 pound whole wheat shells, corkscrews or rottini
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter plus 1 tablespoon to grease pan
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 21/2 cups grated cheese, like sharp cheddar or jack or a mix
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup or more bread crumbs, preferably fresh
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Mix the butter with the flour on low heat and stir for two minutes in a large saucepan with a wire wisk
- Add the milk and add dried mustard and continue wisking . When small bubbles appear along the sides, about 5 minutes later, turn off the heat.
- Cook the pasta to el dente
- As soon as the mixture becomes smooth, add the cheese and stir.
- Pour the sauce over the noodles, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to grease a 9 x 13-inch or similar-size baking pan and turn the pasta mixture into it. Top liberally with bread crumbs and bake until bubbling and the crumbs turn brown, about 20 minutes. Serve piping hot.