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Entries in kate cooks (22)


Original Content

Yep, another blog post.  Hold onto yer hats!  This one is even all original content; GASP!


I haven't yet blogged about our csa, or how amazing it is... but I promise you I will, and that it is indeed amazing.  We went with Riverbend Farms this year and they are simply wonderful, if not simply for the unique things we've gotten so far: corn meal AND turtle beans from last year's harvest (!!!)  I really meant to keep some of the turtle beans for us to plant our own beans next year... but then I forgot to save a few and they all got soaked along with the edibles.  Oh well.  This meal was incredible, not just because I used an entire tub of mascarpone cheese in the polenta, or because I cooked the beans in my favorite Italian fashion, but because aside from the salt, mascarpone cheese and oil, every ingredient came from within 80 miles of our house.  Locavore-ism at its very best (and most delicious).

I made the beans in the same fashion Kyle and I learned five years ago (has it really been that long?) while living in the hills of Italy:


Rince your beans well, and pick through them to sort out broken beans and pesky stones.  Soak your beans in cool water with about an inch of water covering them (add more water as the beans will absorb some).  Cook them in their soaking water with a few cloves of garlic, add salt and stir every once in a while until the beans are the right consistency for you.  I like them just past al dente so they still have a tiny bite to them. When they're done, drizze really good olive oil and serve with crusty bread  Holy cow it's sinful, not to mention incredibly healthy.  You can use them at every meal (they were quite lovely with CSA eggs fried and their yolks oozing onto the beans) and they keep in the fridge until they mold or smell funny, but I can pretty much guarantee they won't be around long enough for you to get to that point, so just keep using them until they're gone. 


This polenta was absolutely fluffy, perfect, sinful and divine.  I was literally in love.  If you can get your hands on homegrown corn meal, do it now and do it fast.  Little chunks of whole squeaky corn REALLY brought the dish together.  For one cup of corn meal, I used 4 1/2 cups of 1% milk with a 1/2 cup of half and half (this is what we call improvising when you don't have whole or 2% milk on hand). 


1C cornmeal

4 cups whole or 2% milk

1 tub mascarpone cheese (12oz ?)

Salt to taste

Two cloves of Garlic (or five garlic scapes) minced


Bring the milk and garlic to a simmer and slowly add the cornmeal over medium heat, whisking constantly until well incorporated.  Stir once every 5 minutes until it reaches the consistencey of apple sauce, about 30 minutes.  Serve immediately. 



Hidden treasure

Okay, I'm discontinuing Weekly Food Horoscope... at least for the time being.  Not enough comments, and well, I suck at doing anything on a weekly basis that I'm not required to do by law, my husband or those people that pay me money (fools!).  Maybe if there is a big wave of demand I will continue (feel free to comment below), but until then the Weekly Food Horoscope has a TBD fate.  But!  I did find a hidden treasure in my wad of memory cards today.  It's from Valentine's day (awww) and I had to take a picture of my cute creations.


I made individual Beef Wellington.  I'm kind of a scrooge and don't really care about Valentine's day.  I do love my husband, but really?  Shitty chocolate in a heart shaped box?  So not my style.  I prefer my chocolate dark, rich and in bar form (I'll skip the bon-bons).  Flowers are great on any day, but I prefer ruby red shoes to scarlet roses.  Ooh, can we make shoes a Valentine's day standard from here on out?  So I don't like V-day... but I'm a sucker for an excuse to make a fancy meal, so Beef Wellington it was.  And since it was v-day I had an excuse to be cute. 



Trying to be a LITTLE less of a scrooge, I did the cute K+K for Kate and Kyle instead of my preferred K v. K, (Kate versus Kyle is the name of our band.  And yes, we are available for weddings.)

And then I got even girlier and threw on some hearts.



And here they are being cute on the silpat together.



Did you kids do anything cute for your honey for Valentine's day?


Life is too short to drink Folgers

First, let me thank everyone for their patience with my crappy response time to my contest ends.  I'd love to say that I can just be sitting by the computer and have a winner ready moments after the contest ends, but as most people in my life can attest to, I am kind of an over achiever, and actually sit in front of the computer much less often that I'd actually like to. 


Regardless, lucky number 21 was the winner of the Surdyks Give Away (WTG Ellen!) And as with many of the people who read my blog and enter my food and beverage related contests, Ellen and I could probably be good friends since, from her blog it seems as though she loves Italy, Photography, Food and Running.  It also seems as though she recently returned from a stint in Italy from whence she brought home a big chunk of Pecorino Romano.  And since I'm filled with hormones today (I just got home from holding the sweetest little baby) I'm already feeling weepy, and now damn it Ellen, I really miss Italy.  So thanks for that!  Now you can buy MORE Pecorino Romano from Surdyks.  Pair it with some truffle honey, a nice thinly sliced pear and una martini bianco. Wow... you'll be missing those gorgeous palazzi, sono sicura di questo.  Sigh.


Let's move on from nostalgia and on to cool things you can do to entertain yourself in Minnesota in winter, shall we? I TRY to come up with creative things to do for my blog for a few reasons.  It keeps me entertained, I like to challenge myself and I like to make things that might otherwise be scary (like making pate, or cooking rabbit, growing vegetables for the first time, etc) become normal every day experiments rather than big scary projects that consume lots of time and money.  So this last week I roasted coffee.  Because... why the hell not?


I got some green beans (of the coffee variety) and tips from my friend Shawn at Public Coffee House and went to town.  He told me I could definitely do it in an air popcorn popper, but that would have involved a trip to at least one thrift store and I really wanted to try this roasting thing immediately. I was also advised that I could roast in the traditional Ethiopian method, which is just over a flame in a nice hot pan.  I tried REALLY hard to get this pan as clean as possible since it has a pale background I figured the colors would pop better.  My cleaning efforts failed (EVEN with Barkeepers friend, ugh!) but you won't judge me for that.  If anything you'll judge how dirty my stove top is but you won't do that either.  Right?


So how do you do this yourself?


Well, start with a hot pan.  HOT.  I heated mine up for at least 3 minutes for a porcelain coated cast iron pan.  And could really feel the heat coming off of it when I held my hand about 6 inches above the surface. Then you add your beans.  I decided to make just about enough for one pot (which turned into several small batches using our moka, so really whatever quantity you want is probably just fine.  And then the fun begins.  Stir constantly (except for the few times I braved putting down my wooden spoon to take a picture) and wait with your eyes on the beans. 



Shawn informed me I would hear something called a first crack.  This is an audible noise (much like a cracking log on a bonfire) that indicates the coffee has reached a specific place in the roasting method.  When my beans started cracking, I knew I wasn't doing everything TOTALLY wrong, so that was swell.  Stir on and approach a color you think looks like the coffee you normally buy.  Expect to hear some intermittent snaps (which I hope/think was the second cracking).  My bean colors weren't totally even, but hot damn, they looked like coffee!  Turn off the heat off and let them cool for a bit.  Let me be clear that roasting coffee beans does not smell like the coffee aisle at the supermarket.  It smells like burning, so don't do this with anticipation of having a delicious smelling house if the in-laws are coming over. Try this though: after they cool I put them in an air tight container and wait 5 minutes.  Then open that baby up and stick your nose in. Suddenly all that burn-y smell has become heavenly!  And there you go, you've roasted your own coffee beans!


If you're interested in learning more about roasting your own beans check out Sweet Maria's for much more detailed and specific instructions.  Shawn from Public Coffee House does have the green beans for sale in the Twin Cities metro and can be contacted at info(at)publiccoffeehouse(dot)com or you can buy them from Sweet Maria's on the national level.


One last very exciting piece of news on the home front is my new weekly photo column "Foodography" over on the City Pages Food Blog, The Hot Dish.  Every week I'll be documenting my adventures as a Twin Cities foodie in pictures so be sure to check back frequently!




Weekly fish fix

I'm very close to my mom. 

She is the only person I can talk to on the phone for hours and still feel like I have more to say at the end of the conversation.  I call her when I'm getting my oil changed, or need advice, or a recipe for something I want to recreate for the blog or a dinner party (like the broccoli rice and cheese casserole). 


Now recently, I think Mom feels I haven't been giving credit where credit is due on this here food blog.  I'm often referring to my dad's cooking habits when we were kids, which usually had to do with the fact that my Dad when my mom was at work.  And honestly as a kid, my brothers and I often couldn't stand my Dad's cooking, especially "Dad's Special Pancakes" (I don't want to ruin the surprise, I'll probably blog about them eventually. 


What my mom did for my cooking habits is equally as priceless as my dad's renegade, recipe ignoring style. She taught me the basics.  Things I cook ALL the time when eating is necessary and frozen food won't cut it.  I remember my mom making me stir the risotto, and the first time we made pasta from scratch, and how scary it was cutting up my first chicken (chickens do still feel a little creepy when being prepared whole, but not so creepy I won't touch them)


But my favorite staple Mom taught me to make, aside from Shake'n'bake pork chops (which are really fucking good, for the record) is tuna salad.  Tuna salad represents a day when men aren't around.  God only knows why that is, but Mom and I would make tuna salad and mix it with pasta and eat it until we rolled out of the kitchen, only to come back for more hours later.  And for some reason there were never any men around when we made it.  My dad would be on a business trip or my brothers at soccer games and this would be an easy, quick meal we would both always be in the mood for.  On top of that, you rarely need to make a trip to the store to make tuna salad since celery and mayo are always in the fridge, and onions always in the cupboards. 


Sunday mornings are all about Kate.  Kyle is at work until 3 or 4, and I can do whatever I want without male distraction.  This usually involves client meetings, editing and more recently going to the gym.  Today it meant fending for myself for lunch, and just you guess what was in the fridge and cupboards.  Tuna, celery, onions and mayo.  I was also in the good graces of having purchased a bag of avocados last week, with one perfectly ripe alligator pear just asking to be fanned across the top of my open faced sandwich. 

Don't forget mom, you also made me eat whole wheat bread growing up and even though I would have died for a wonderbread sandwich at the age of 8, nothing with enriched all purpose flour crosses the threshold into my kitchen these days... unless I'm baking cookies.  I even eat the crusts ;)


Eggs in Cocottes with Black Garlic

My awesome friends at Marx Foods never fail to provide me with new ingredients at which to test my hands, even if I have a pileup of their products scattered throughout my house as it is.  This time around they were offering a sample of their black garlic to bloggers willing to try it out and review it on their sites.  Being the knowledgeable food snob that I am, Marx Foods always proves to me that I still have plenty to learn regarding obscure and unique ingredients: I had never heard of black garlic until they mentioned it.  Though by no means an expert recipe writer, I am always up for a challenge, so awaiting for me after a lovely snowstorm were two heads of black garlic.


I sat on my bag for a while.  Christmas was coming and I wasn't doing a lot of experimental cooking outside of making Broccoli and Rice Casserole from scratch.  Then it came time to pack up for Houston (my Christmas destination) and I threw the garlic in my bag next to the Surly t-shirt for my brother and homemade bath salts for my Mom.  Cooking has always been a part of family gatherings so I was certain I'd have the opportunity to utilize my fancy new ingredient at some point during my trip. 


My opportunity came yesterday morning at breakfast time.  We had returned the night before from a trip to Fort Worth to visit more family members and were ready to detox ourself from the potato casserole and beef jerky overload we had enjoyed during the past two days. 


After a bit of brain storming, Kyle helped me come up with the idea to use the garlic in Eggs in Cocottes, a favorite dish of mine I originally discovered years ago at the Grand Cafe.  Cocottes are simply a reference to the little dish the eggs are served in, so any variation of individual servings of eggs in a small dish classifies as Eggs in Cocottes in my opinion. 


We used the only oven-proof ramekins we had on hand and they were a little small to be a main breakfast dish. This would be lovely served after a starter of sticky buns or with a side of potatoes and a well made bloody mary.


Eggs in Cocottes with Black Garlic

Serves 4


4 ramekins, 1 Baking Pan



4 slices Brioche or Challah Bread

4 eggs

3/4c whipping cream

4 cloves Marx Foods Black Garlic, chopped

1 clove Marx Foods Black Garlic, sliced thinly

1/2c grated Gruyere Cheese


Heat the oven to 425F and put a kettle of water on to boil.  Trim the bread into rounds that fit in the bottom of the ramekins. 

Using a stand or hand mixer, whip the cream until firm peaks form.

Mix in the chopped garlic. 

Line ramekins with bread rounds.  Cover the bread with a dollop of whipped cream garlic mixture. 

Crack one egg into each ramekin.

... and top with another dollop of whipped cream.

Top each ramekin with gruyere cheese and garnish with a slice of black garlic. 

Arrange ramekins in baking pan and fill the pan with boiling water until it reaches 1/2 way up the sides of the ramekins. 

Bake in the oven for 6-10 minutes; until eggs are set and the cheese has browned.  Serve immediately. 

Slightly sweet and a little earthy, the black garlic adds a very nice complexity to this breakfast dish.  Mixing the garlic with the whipped cream ensures a good spread of the full flavor throughout the dish, and it paired great with the sharpness of the gruyere cheese (if I do say so myself).