I talk about food a lot. And other stuff.

But mostly food.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bring something to share.

This summer we moved to a great new neighborhood.  There's an event once a month for the adults.  One family hosts, and everyone brings their own drinks and something to share. The other night we went to a games party at our neighbors' house.  Have you ever played BUNCO?  You must.

We brought a Big-Ass bottle of wine (and subsequently napped a lot the next day) and a tureen of Roasted Pear-Butternut Squash Soup with Crumbled Stilton

I put it on a tray with a ladle, spoon rest, little cups and spoons.  The garnishes in the recipe are chives or scallion greens and crumbled stilton.  I had one more compartment on my cute little tray, so I also added toasted slivered almonds.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Shortcut to what?

(Thanks for playing along, Geek Readers.)

A while ago, I confessed to not liking mushrooms.  The next day I bought some and made some stuff.   I was in a bit of a frenzy, so I can't remember exactly what I did, and again, these are my crappy iPhone pictures (must remember to use real camera).

I know that I chopped them up really fine,

 sauteed them in butter with garlic, 

threw in some chicken stock - frozen in ice cube trays - perfect for this sort of thing.  I make a lot of pan gravy.  

Then I whirled the whole thing in the food processor because I really can't get past the texture.  

Put it back in the pan and thinned it out again with stock and wine, and spooned it over a chicken tender.  

Is there a way to make a mushroom sauce look pretty?
I don't think even a real camera and sprig of something green could save that.


I loved it so much, I added milk to what was left in the pan, and maybe some other stuff, and ate in on pasta.  While standing over the stove. 

 And I think I ate a little much - it's very rich - but I can't wait to try more! 

Me, after eating possibly too many mushrooms..... wait.
Also: Dig the ShrinkyDink earrings my 5 year old made for me.

The moral of the story, dear readers, is:  If you throw yourself down a hill to get away from the farmer you're stealing from and the black riders who are looking for you, you could just find a shortcut to mushrooms.


Try something you think you don't like.  You might change your mind. 

But I'm still not doing olives.  I take my martinis up with a twist. (Gin, no Vermouth)

We ate food on Thursday. Here are a whole lot of iPhone pictures.

Chances are, if you live in the US, you ate food Thursday, too.  Well, really, chances are if you're reading this blog from anywhere, you ate food on Thursday.  But a lot of us ate similarly this particular Thursday.

Here's what we had:

A few years ago, my mother threatened to make reservations for Thanksgiving.  I told her that eating at a restaurant was unacceptable, that my body knows when Thanksgiving comes around and that I was sure it would mutiny in an ugly way, were it not given it's annual ration of Madeira gravy.  I told her she and my father could put the turkey in the oven, and I would take care of the rest.

We're all really glad I did, because now we have a sort of tradition where Mom and Dad do turkey/stuffing/gravy and I do everything else.  Well, everything else that requires actual cooking - they can still handle nuking the package of peas with butter sauce.

Throughout the years, we've solidified a very nice menu.  Here's this year's verison:

Cranberry Sauce, two ways
Bag of Cranberries, 2 oranges, 1/4 cup brown sugar, ginger, cloves.
At the table

Yes, we also had the canned kind.
Why did they change the cans so you can't open both sides?  Drives us nuts every year.

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Other Sides

Aforementioned Peas in Butter Sauce

Mashed Potatoes (y'all know to put an egg in there, right?  Makes 'em super rich!)

Sausage Stuffing (do you call it stuffing or dressing?)

Sweet Potatoes

Creamed Onions

See the herbs between the skin and breast meat?

At the table.

Herby leftovers.

Mana from Heaven.

Seriously, we have to ration the leftovers of this stuff.

My mom sets a lovely table.

The table before.

Place setting.

What I ate.

The aftermath.
My daughter's school's fundraiser this Fall was from The Chip Shoppe.  Here's what we bought to help build a rock wall for her gym:

Pumpkin Roll.  YUM!

Pecan Pie.
You'll see this on our Christmas table, too.  Glad we got two!!

Turkey stock.

Mimi, the 15 year old Jack Russell Terrier, gets to lick the platter.

Midnight snack.

The last of the leftovers became a pizza lunch.
A Flatout, topped with mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, mozzarella under the broiler,
garnished with orange cranberry relish.

As I said in an earlier post.  I am thankful that you read my blog.  I'm so happy I started it and it gives me great joy that you're out there.  Thank you.

This is too cute not to show again.  Seriously.  All four paws are on that thing!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Giving Thanks.

I've been writing this blog for 292 days.  I am So Grateful there are people out there reading it.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

I'll get the pictures from Thanksgiving off my phone and talk about all the deliciousness as soon as I find my phone.  Probably tomorrow.

Right now, I'm going to enjoy my quiet house for about 3 minutes, change the bandage on my bad-ass second degree bubbly olive oil burn, make myself a cocktail and watch Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. 


Goodnight, lovely Internets.

Monday, November 22, 2010

STROGANOFF!! (to scare the birds)*

Inspired once again by my lovely internet friends of this blog, Facebook and Twitter, I decided this week to try a flood that I think I don't like.  (Thanks, guys!)  It was almost olives, but I just can't get there.  I think I have to be satisfied with my adoration of olive oil, and be done with it.

No, this week I made two recipes with mushrooms in them. Here is one. The other is forthcoming. The secret for me is that I can't know that the mushroom is there. It needs to hide its creepy spongy texture and only reveal its delicious earthy flavor. Then, mushrooms and I are cool.

Makes 4 1-cup servings
Total time: 30 minutes

· 1 (1 pound) pork tenderloin cut in ½ inch strips
· ½ tsp salt, divided
· ¼ tsp pepper
· 2 ½ tsp butter, divided
· Cooking spray
· ½ cup chicken broth
· 2 cups onion, chopped
· 1 (8 oz) package mushrooms
· 1 cup low-fat sour cream
· 1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
· 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
· 1 tsp flour
· Dill sprigs

Season pork with1/4 tsp salt and pepper. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray, then add 1 ½ tsp butter and melt over medium heat.. Add pork, sauté 4 minutes or until pork loses its pink color. Remove pork from pan; cover to keep warm.

Add broth to pan, cook 20 seconds. Add 1 teaspoon butter, ¼ tsp salt, onions and mushrooms; cook 8 minutes or until lightly browned; remove from heat.

Meanwhile, combine sour cream, dill, mustard and flour in a small bowl. 

Add sour cream mixture and pork back to pan; stir well on low until stroganoff is heated through.

Serve over wide egg noodles and a side of peas or asparagus. Yum!

*Wondering what I'm talking about in the title?  Here you go:

If you don't know the work Calef Brown, you should. I think of his poem, "Polka Bats" every time I hear the word STROGANOFF. These are the books I look forward to reading to my kids over and over again. Smart, funny rhymes - and crazy illustrations, too.

 A local band named Clementown has set two of his books to music. They are also seriously awesome. We've seen them in concert twice now, and I think I'm even more excited to see them than the kids are. Again, this is the CD I don't mind being on repeat in the car for days.

photos here and here

Saturday, November 20, 2010


There's a new restaurant in town, and if you live anywhere near Minneapolis,  you need to get yourself there.  Pizzeria LOLA at 56th and Xerxes is fantastic.  Interesting combinations of ingredients (and Old Reliables) sit upon perfect crusts and sauce cooked in a gorgeous copper covered fire-only oven.  They have a really nice wine list with a variety of price points ($5 - $12/glass, $21 - $35/bottle, plus two sparkling offerings), and their beer list just added Surly - a fact that makes me super happy. They also serve  a variety of soft drinks, including Mexican Coke.  

All they serve for entrees is pizza.  Perfect, lovely, oven-fired pizza.  However, I need to also comment on the awesome starters.  These are genius.  They are exactly what I want when I'm having pizza.  Sure, a side salad will round out your pizza dinner nutritionally, but wouldn't you rather have roasted Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and chippolini onions ($9)?  I know I did.  I had a hard time deciding between that and the Roasted Baby Beets with mixed greens, Montchevre  & hazelnuts ($11).  These dishes are big enough for two to share, veggie-laden (though you can also get meatballs, antipasti, tuna or olives), warm, comforting, and very well paired with pizza.

Loves me some B Sprouts.
For our pizza selections, my children and I split an Old Reliable (House red sauce, mozzarella and pecorino -$10), and a Seasonal Pie (butternut squash, spaghetti squash, brown butter, Taleggio and sage - $15).)  Both were delicious.  Like, I had to close my eyes delicious.  I especially noticed the sauce on the Old Reliable - not too sweet like most Minnesota pizzas I've run into. 

 I was also given a little ramekin with four different olives as an amuse bouche.  I appreciate this very much, and think it's a lovely gesture.  I brought them home with the leftovers for my husband - the only olive eater in the house.  The pizza, by the way, does very well reheated in the oven for a few minutes.  Not as good as at the table, of course, but I wouldn't disgrace it with a microwaving.  Far too excellent to nuke.

As for the space, it's great.  What could be a small, cafeteria-like space is transformed into a cozy community of diners.  The bar is tucked in the back and lined with copper.  Muted Korean animae plays on a flat-screen.  The staff is right there for patrons to chat with and watch (a favorite place of mine and my parents' for this very reason - must sit there next time), and the bar wall is backlit and muted-bright.  Great lighting.  The floor of the restaurant is shiny (I know this because I had to look for a crayon a couple of times), and it holds a few two and four top tables and is lined with booths that aren't booths.  They're tables with chairs, separated by half walls.  It's kinda brilliant.  A great mix of music plays at just the right volume.  Inverted tomato cans dot the ceiling  in their second incarnation as light fixtures.  The staff is helpful, knowledgeable and kind.  Sure, it was a little bit of a wait to get a table (maybe 10 minutes), but they don't take reservations and I was there an hour and a half into opening night.  It'll all work out.  In fact, on day five, I bet it already has.

Chef Ann Kim wore a flower in her hair on opening night.  Servers station is reflected in the copper oven. 


There were very few things I'd change, all in all.  I had two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc, but was never given water - this is partially my fault, as I never remembered to ask when my server was there.   Apparently I like wine better than water.  This is not new information for anyone.  As for eating at LOLA with kids, I'd suggest offering a smaller sized Old Reliable at a lower price point ($5?).  For the awesome quality of this food, I'd probably pay a higher "kids menu item" price for a smaller pizza/ glass of milk/one cookie combo. (I paid $2 each for my kids' milks.)  Typically that combo would be a $5 - $7 endeavor, but at LOLA I bet I'd pay $10  for it - or even $12- $12.99 if the pizza was regular sized for my kids to split and it came with 2 milks and a big cookie.  Did I just invent the  "two-kid" meal?   Let's talk.  These are very little things and I'm sure it will all evolve over the long, long time I'm sure LOLA will be open.

Let's get back to what was great, shall we?  The napkins.  You heard me.  Big, think paper napkins.  So awesome.  The kids' activity/coloring placemats are two-sided.  Need I say more, parents?  I don't think so.  Also, the bathroom smells great and is really cute.  It has a weird little motion-detector box above the door that plays quotes while you're in there.  I couldn't figure out what it was at first.  I thought I was hearing the next loo over, or the kitchen or something.  Then I heard Christopher Walken tell me it needed more cowbell.  And Biff Tannen tell me to make like a tree and get out of here.  And Dr. Fankenstein wish Frau Blucher a Goodnight (neeeeeeiiiggghhhhhhhhh).   I love this thing.  I waved my hand in front of it like a dozen times.

I haven't even talked about dessert yet.  I was sad that on opening night, the ice cream machine wasn't working.  Next time I need me some house made vanilla soft serve with olive oil and fleur de sel.  This time, however, I was blessed with the cookies and milk plate.  Two huge belgian chocolate chip cookies topped with a sprinkle of fleur de sel and served with Ice Cold milk.  Yeah.  Oh, yeah!

Cookie (with bite - I couldn't get the iPhone out fast enough), as modeled by my 5-year-old.  

Finally, my check came in a Lucky Strikes tin.  I like this trend of quirky in restaurants (Cafe Maude gives you your check in an old library book cover).  It makes me feel fancy.

LSMFT?  Not in this case.  LSMFP!*

This last, quirky little flair paired with the bathroom quoter thingy brings my appreciation of this lovely, delicious neighborhood gem to a new level.  It's the level that lets me know that not only are the people in charge here great at what they do, they are smart and have a sense of humor.  

Great food from smart, funny people.  Now, really, what's better than that?  

Get thee to LOLA.

*Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco / Pizza - yep. I'm old.