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Entries in Kate Eats (9)

Wednesday
Aug112010

Outstanding in the (Minnesota) Field

 

You may remember my post from around this time last year when I wrote about the fabulous experience I had with Kyle and my parents at the Minnesota version of Outstanding in the field.  We were fortunate enough to experience the dinner once again, for what I can only hope is a newly formed tradition with Kyle and my parents. 

 

 

This year, similar to last, my parents, husband and I packed into a four seater Toyota and travelled west into what I consider uncharted Minnesota territory.  This time we were farther south, and stayed on a highway I was relatively familiar with, until we passed all the expensive Excelsior houses and spun around in a rural round-about.  "How civilized" my mother commented.  I was gathering excitement for our upcoming meal; wondering who I might know, how things would be different from the year before, and of course, what we would be eating.  As we slowed to approach the would be dinner site (Star Thrower Farms) , I jumped out of the car to grab some pictures and cleverly ran into my lovely friend Kathy, who just so happened to be the woman who earlier this year introduced me to the wonderful world of foraging.  Having not seen each other for months, we gabbed about how good it was to see the other again, until I realized I had all but abandoned my dinner guests to chat.  I trudged along to meet up with the rest of the crowd and get my hands on some of the first treats of the evening. 

  

First up, charcuterie compliements of celebri-chef Mike Phillips.  His work at the Craftsman has been well regarded in the Twin Cities, but is about to partake in an new adventure called Green Ox, creating salumi for the masses (!!!!).

 

This year's event was notably hot and humid, compared to last years breezy, overcast and ultimately electrified experience.  We stood around and chatted sipping on our aperitifs of Minnesota made vodka and refreshing prosecco. Jim Denevan (founder and ah-mazing artist chatted with us a bit, giving us a breakdown of how it all began.  Soon there after we were introduced to farmers Deborah and Scott Pikovsky and took off to enjoy a tour of the farm.

 

 

The tour involved meeting some of their Icelandic sheep, their many rams, the milking room (including a not-to-be-messed-with guard llama) and my favorite: an amazingly well preserved old barn with gorgeous interior architecture.  Finally, we headed down the hill towards the massive linened table set for 150.  Jealous yet?

The guest chef this year was again Scott Pampuch, owner and chef of The Corner Table and the man behind the locally based Tour De Farm.  His experience cooking with local food is quite extensive and it showed clearly throughout every course.  Up first was a salad of grilled sausage and peaches, mizuna and kohlrabi purée with a sprinkling of lamb pancetta served with a Rush River Double Alt beer.  The peaches were sweet, the lamb sausage earthy, the mizuna added a slight spice, the kohlrabi purée was smooth and creamy as silk, pancetta crunchy and salty and the beer bitter.  Not a bad way to start off an amazing meal. 

 

Up next was a lamb tamale made with Kathy's foraged black trumpet mushrooms and Riverbend farms cornmeal, dressed wtih greens, pickles and oh-so-hot hungarian wax peppers.  Amazing.  Gorgeous.  SPICY!

 

Phillips and Pampuch sprinkle sheep queso fresco on a lamb tamale salad.

The sun seemed to be lowering itself in the sky at an alarmingly slow pace, but fortunately two of the dishes were paired with rosé, my all time favorite way to beat the heat.  Well.  That and sitting in my newly purchased backyard swimming pool.  But that's a story for another time.  We followed up the tamales with a simple dish of grilled lamb, potatoes, baby carrot and onion. When well executed, the easiest dishes can beat the most extravagant any day of the week.  


Nothing better to beat the head than a cool, tart palatte cleanser.  This consisted of goat yogurt paired with ground cherries served on what were at one time the floor boards lining Chef Pampuch's attic.  Absolutely stunning.

The palatte cleanser came in quite handy as the next course consisted of a rich and flavorful lamb loin, heart, kidneys (blech!) and tongue.  I'm the first girl to step up to the organ meat plate, but the kidneys were way too much for me.  I'll take liver any day of the week though and I wonder who got to eat the lamb sweatbreads? Hmmmm.....

At this point it was time for a break and some good digestion.  Mom and I hit the Biffy's (seriously the nicest port-o-john I have EVER been in.  It flushed!  And had a pump for water!  Very ooh-la-la in the land of portable toilets) and I became infatuated with OITF's vintage bus. 

 

We rounded out the evening with some lovely desserts.  We started with the best dessert of all: cheese, berries and honey.  But soon enough the sun passed beyond the trees and the cheese had been consumed. A quick round of sweet corn ice cream followed, which we enjoyed as the bugs began their twilight assault and quickly devoured our legs. It was time to go.

 

 

Thanks to everyone who made that lovely Saturday night possible: The lamb, the farmers, the land, the chefs, the line cooks, the dishwashers, the foragers, the diners, the crop mobs, the organizers and everyone in between.  It couldn't have happened without you. 

 

 

Tuesday
Jul132010

Blood work

Today started off just fine.  I woke up at a relatively normal time, felt good and was ready to start the day.  Until I realized I couldn't eat breakfast.  I am a major breakfast eater, and turn into a she-devil if you keep it away from me.  It's not so much that I'm hungry in the morning, necessarily, but come 10 or 11am, if I haven't eaten it becomes very noticeable to just about everyone this side of the Mississippi.  I had my annual exam at 11:10, and because I'm interested in seeing how much cholesterol lowering medication I'm going to need go to on (and prepare to send the bill to my enablers. You know who you are) I made the wonderful decision to skip breakfast and let the medical tech poke me with a needle. 

 

Someone pointed out to me that fasting is the reason to schedule your appointments very early in the morning.  Well that's all fine and dandy, but also the reason I had this appointment to begin with: my last appointment was at 8:45 and due to a bit of sleeping in, traffic on 35, and a tight schedule, I arrived at 9:05 and was told that was too little, too late.  Hence, the reschedule (over a month later might I add). 

 

The blood withdrawl went as planned, I was poked and prodded and looked at, and was sent on my merry way.  This is when things became problematic. I'm going to go as far as to say my brain doesn't work at all if I don't eat breakfast.  I was in Edina and couldn't for the life of me figure out where I was going to go eat.  So I just got in my car and drove, ending up at Costco in The West End of St Louis Park, and tried every sample they had to offer, hoping it would sate me enough to make a fricken decision.  On my way out I saw a Panera bread sign and thought to mysef "FINE!" 

 

Sometimes being a stubborn ass isn't worth giving up decently okay foodstuffs.  At least it would be consistent.

 

As I walked up to the door all I could focus on was the poster depicting what looked to be a Caprese salad and then there, on the menu it was listed "Tomato, Mozzerella and Basil Salad"... aka, suburban caprese.  Fabulous.  I ordered that along with a Black Bean soup and took my seat at the counter waiting for my buzzer to buzz.  As I approached the counter I knew something was wrong.  That was a big bowl of lettuce, topped with mealy tomatoes and THREE fucking balls of fresh mozzerella.  I'm fairly confident there was actually more fat free Italian salad dressing on that salad than there was mozzerella.  And of course, croutons.

 

WHY DO PEOPLE MESS WITH PERFECTION?  CHEESE, TOMATOES, BASIL!  IT'S SO FUCKING EASY!!!!!!! And the black bean soup?  Of course.  OF COURSE they put a 1/2 cup of cumin in their Black Bean soup and lunch was rendered inedible. Fortunately for me they gave me a half pound chunk of multigrain bread which I slathered with three teenie tiny packs of butter so that I could get the energy to walk out of that place, leaving piles of terrible food just sitting on the counter. 

 

Needless to say, I haven't really recovered from my lunch experience.  I'm still hungry, but have no motivation to eat, or perhaps fear that anything I do eat will be as utterly disappointing as that ridiculous lunch.

 

Now, I know what you're thinking:  "What a fucking snob, eat your shitty salad dressing like a big girl and shut up already."  I would like to point out that I truely enjoy about 10,000 things that don't make me a goddamn snob.  So I'm putting together a list to keep me in your good graces after I just chewed out Panera.

 

1) MSG.  I love the stuff.  It's like crack to me.  Give me a bag of Cool Ranch Dorito chips and that bag WILL be gone, regardless of size.  This actually probably encapsulates a lot of trashy items I like, but Doritos and Earl's really take the cake here.


2) McDonald's

Though I dont' actually eat there, I would eat the hell out of a Filet'o'Fish any day of the week.  And McDonald's breakfast?  Don't even get me started.  Fat? Sodium? Cholesterol?  Bring it on.

 

3) Shake'n'bake

Pork chops, specifically.

 

4) Ranch dressing

On anything.  Including Pizza

 

5) Tostidos Salsa con Queso

This is almost as bad as Ranch.  Eggs, chips, burritos, straight out of the jar...

 

6) Lalli's Pizza in Milwaukee, WI

I haven't had this in years, but I still dream about it

 

7) Pickles wrapped in cream cheese and ham

 

8) Mini corn dogs

 

9) Strawberry Quik

 

10) BBQ meatballs

 

There, okay? I like disgustingly tasty things.  Now somebody get me some wine.

Friday
Jan222010

Winner and SGT Dinner

So I took some time off. 

Fine, I'm lying.   I didn't take ANY time off. 

 

I've been plenty busy with food and photography, but none of which really inspired me to sit down and blog about it. Granted, I easially could have written about dinner at Everest on Grand with Rae and Eric, but I didn't take any pictures and honestly I wasn't inspired to (until I got our delicious food.  Holy shit. I love Indian food).  You can read about our dining experience at Sen Yai Sen Lek over on Erin and Ben' blog.  I had TWO client meetings on Sunday (following up the advertorial posted on Off Beat Bride last week, I've been spending a lot of time responding to inquiries) and generally ate out a ton the past few days. Since this is so unlike me I will recap for you.  Monday Lunch: Buon Giorno. Dinner: Red Stag  Tuesday Lunch: 3 Squares, Dinner: Brasa  Wednesday Breakfast: Bryant Lake Bowl, Dinner: Northeast Social Thursday Dinner: Sushi at Seven.

 

What am I,  some kind of socilite? 

 

The worst part is, I have no inclination to cook this week.

 

At all.

 

I'm not sure I can even muster up the desire to fry myself an egg this morning.  Anyway to provide at least ONE piece of original content this week (so I don't feel like a complete failure) here is a picture at the Simple Good and Tasty Dinner at Brasa, St Paul. 

Meeting Alex Roberts was probably the highlight of my dining week.  He was very kind and friendly, his food is delicious, his mindset so focused on good quality and local ingredients... and he's damn cute too (have I started liking guys with beards? Damn you bearded husband.  You're changing my ideals!).

 

Oh and the winner: Emily Tritabaugh was the lucky number 17 to be selected by Random.org!  You have an email from me in your inbox about collecting the goods.  Way to comment!  I love the concept behind her blog too.  Mottainai is a Japanese term that refers to when something valuable, such as food, is wasted. Her blog and lifestyle are dedicated to make Mottainai a little less frequent in the world... and we should probably be friends. 

Monday
Dec072009

Winner: CurryUp! Dinner for two

I realise I may have bummed a few of you out by not releasing the winner of my giveaway on Friday.  My car was broken into on Thursday night while out to eat so I was in a foul mood all day Friday which is just not the kind of mood you should be in when talking about giving away free dinner.  I'd love to tell you all about the break in, but I'm doing my best just to put it behind me and hope that it never happens to you. So, back to what we were talking about before

 

55 (!) individual comments were entered regarding the give away.  Random number generator picked out number 31.

 

Oh I suppose, you'd like me to tell you who the 31st commenter was?  Congrats Lauren, you're my 1st December winner!

Yes Lauren, you're completely onto me. Less Pateet Imajes was great, but maybe not for Minnesotans.  Perhaps I was on the high of reading Chocolate and Zucchini when choosing my blog name (if you don't know she is a French woman who blogs in English from her home in Paris) Oh wait, I didn't blog in French, and I improperly USED French in the site's title. Maybe just not the best decision I've ever made.

 

Lauren, Shoot me an email at info@forkknife and spoon with your full name, address and social security number... err, maybe I should wait until a later giveaway to start stealing the identiy of my readers.  Congrats!

 

In other awesome news: I had a bunch of great reach out to my first week of Fork, Knife and Spoon.  If you haven't seen it yet, please go check out the incredibly flattering piece written by Jessica Chapman (no, not the girl I went to high school with... this took me a moment to get used to the first time she contacted me) on the Hot Dish, The City Pages Food Blog.  So a big welcome to new readers and a big "thank GOD you're here" to all of you who followed me from Images Petites.  It's definitely a strange mentality shift when you start thinking about losing readers.  I also have to give a big shout out to CurryUp! for saying a lot about it on twitter and I definitely have to thank all of you who commented, blogged, tweeted or facebooked about it.  Clearly if you didn't exist this would be more of a Doogie Howser type journal than a public one, and Kyle would really start to get upset when I ignored him so I could go play with the internet (because that NEVER happens now).

To commemorate my new blog I'm actually going to give you the privilege of seeing a unique picture or two, and you can even read a rant about why you shouldn't buy baby carrots.  Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen:

A Blog Post, by Kate NG Sommers

 

Starting my new blog (I will actually only talk about this for a month, I swear) has given me new purpose in my already very busy life.  I will now name my first blog goal.  Hopefully to be followed by others, but we all have to start somewhere. 

I will blog original content twice a week. 

There, now it's public, and I am screwed. 

I've been really milking my once-a-week blogging enterprise for about four months now.  And it makes me feel GUILTY.  Because I'm SO important that you're all just dying to hear the next thing that crosses my mind?  Because the world will end if another picture of a carrot isn't posted on a website today? 

Who knows. 

I'm actually even thinking of brainstorming ideas and get this, writing them down. 

I might even start a calendar just for the blog (I did it for my giveaways already.  Thank you to both Google and Apple for making a girl who can't remember to put a PEN in her bag to always have her iPhone (hence calendar) with her everywhere she goes. 

And yes, I am co-dependant on my iPhone.  If it broke I... I don't even know what I would do.  It's pathetic, but it does make me happy.

 

Okay ready? 

 

Post 1, Week 1, Goal 1

Turkey Soup and Homemade Crackers, with a hint of baby shower

We had a Thanksgiving Feast the day after Thanksgiving last Friday as you may well remember.  Every year we get the turkey carcass from Kyle's parents and every year it takes up space in our freezer until we get fed up and just throw the freezer burned space-eater away.  This year we were DETERMINED to not let that happen and while the bird sat in our fridge we kept telling each other "we better do something with that goddamned bird". 

Then came Friday.  I was stranded at home waiting for some guy to come take apart my car door to give me a new window (thanks awesome guy that stole my GPS.  Too bad you didn't get the STRAIGHT CASH I also had in my car.  Oh wait, I was going to put this behind me, right?)  and said, what the hell, might as well make turkey stock while I'm at home. 

Here is my recipe.  It's really hard: Turkey, Onion, Water, Carrot, Celery, Peppercorns and heat.  No, I didn't make a bouquet garnis, we had just run out of bay leaves and I didn't even throw a single sprig of rosemary in. Bad foodie! And then I cooked the hell out of it for 4 hours.  One hour covered, three hours uncovered. 

 

And it made the most beautiful stock. 

To use your stock you'll want to strain it with as finely meshed a strainer as you can find.  If you're short on time (four hours is really a decent amount of time to be dealing with one type of food afterall) you can put it in double ziplock bags or tupperware (or some type of freezer and environmentally friendly option)and freeze it until you're good and inspired.  Or you can be a good American and make Turkey Noodle Soup while the stock is still hot.

This made about 3 quarts of soup, which was enough to feed each of us twice, serve it to guests, and have one serving still in the fridge.  I'm not going to lie and tell you my turkey noodle soup was terribly interesting either. My "secret" ingredient is parmesan cheese (the REAL stuff... or something equally honorable).  If I had been more clever I would have put the rind of a parmesan chunk in to give myself a "chef's surprise" but I grated some in at the last moment instead.  I used organic carrots that I like to be diced FINELY. In fact, I almost always like all of my vegetables diced finely.  Rarely am I a fan of a chopped or sliced vegetables.  Especially carrots.  Maybe this comes from a hatred of cooked carrots I have learned somewhat to overcome (the smell of peas and carrots still makes me gag, take heed). 

I also didn't peel my carrots, and I've demanded baby carrots never enter my house again.  You know they aren't actually mini carrots right?  They are just carrots widdled down into nubs. And guess where those yummy nutrients are?  Right underneath the skin.  If you're concerned about it being dirty, I think that thing by the window is called a sink.  Carrots unpeeled are no dirtier than a potato with it's skin on.  Please tell me you eat the skin of your potatoes. 

We did use some awesome "noodle style, whole what pasta" Kyle found at Super Target (yes, not all of our grocery shopping is done at the co-op and Trader Joe's.  For shame).  I think the brand was Hodgson Mill.  It turned out really pretty.  And delicious.  What more could a girl ask for in a turkey soup?  Notice the rosemary sprig.  I threw that on just for you. 

To the left of the soup you might notice some adorable little crackers.  I made these really delicious gorgonzola pecan shortbread crackers for my friend Erin's baby shower. 

 

Shortbread (inspired by Epicurious recipe for Blue Cheese Shortbread Leaves)

  • 4 oz Sweet Gorgonzola
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup pecans

Blend all ingredients together until mixture resembles clumpy sand. Form into a ball and flatten between two pieces of plastic wrap into a disk 1/4 inch thick (mixture should be very crumbly) Refrigerate until firm (about one hour)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Cut out crackers into your shape of choice.  Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet (little room is needed between crackers, only about 1/4 inch or so. Bake until just golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool. 

They turned out really well but are pretty fragile.  REALLY delcious with a big Alexander Valley Cabernet. 

 

Becca wonders "what the hell is this naked baby doing in my delicious Bellini? CREEPY!" (This is apparently a well known baby shower game where if your baby is released from an ice cube first, you win a prize.  I, of course, never win games like these.  Because I can't rig them)

 

 

The baby shower was a great success in terms of food and otherwise (though I was frantic until about 20 minutes into the shower.  It did all come together though). 

My final menu (as I was chef for the day)

  • Spinach artichoke dip on puff pastry (easy, yummy and kinda fancy looking)
  • Crudite with Green Goddess dip (I cut those carrots by hand damn it)
  • Cheese Straws (store bought)
  • Ceasar Salad (with eggless dressing for the Mom's to be)
  • Chips and Salsa (store bought)
  • Blue Cheese Shortbread with Cranberry Apple Roulade
  • Pork Carnitas with corn tortillas
  • Yellow Cupcakes

I originally had really high hopes of making a beautiful baby block cake for the shower but the idea of working with fondant and making everything else damn near killed me.  Don't think I didn't try.  A good 3 hours of my life were dedicated to those f-ing blocks.  But my cupcakes turned out great regardless.  I just need to remember that I am only one person, and that Kyle doesn't really get psyched making food on his weekend for parties he isn't allowed to attend.

Finally, my friend Rae (you can thank her for making my beautiful new logo) and I have been working together to help her with a project involving cookbook design.  We now have the aspiration to actually create these books, due in large to how AWESOME the first book deseign turned out. Here is a quick shot I took today for one in the series. 

 

So, if you're a publisher, you know, just drop me a line.  If you're a published writer (cough, you know who you are) tell me how one goes about getting a book deal!  Ha.

Before I sign out, please bear with me while I make adjustments to the site.  Since no one is signing a check over to me for this site, I still have to make my own little tweaks to get it exactly how I'd like it. Today you might notice a new font, tomorrow a column width.  Or if you don't notice at all, you get a star just for being you.

 

Come back today at 12pm CST when I announce my next (national!) giveaway. It is some of the most amazing stuff on earth (and would be part of my last night on earth dinner, I kid you not).

 

 

 

 

Saturday
Nov282009

Thanksgiving and Brown Bread

I've been neglecting this blog but I swear it's for good reason. I just launched KNG Sommers Photography (my new and improved photography business) mailed out two weddings and two baby sessions, photographed two family sessions, (um, is two the magic number?) went to a beer canning for the Heavy Table and hung out with some cattle down in Cannon Falls, MN for Simple, Good and Tasty (I'll make sure to post a link when that article publishes) and all of that normal other day life stuff too. Sound like I have a problem saying no?

The other big news is that as of December 1st this blog will be moving to a new domain! I'm keeping it under wraps until then, but will go live on Tuesday with a month of fun culinary giveaways and much more frequent blog posts. Until then I'll keep you occupied with a delicious stuffing recipe and tempt you with the experimental purchase I made this week.

_____________________________

I was so looking forward to this holiday weekend. With very few obligations and nothing immediately on the chopping block Kyle and I spent all day on Wednesday doing nothing. Yesterday while I was working from home Kyle prepared "2nd Thanksgiving" which is a fun excuse to cook and drink two days in a row.

I don't care much for Turkey. It's fine I suppose, but I certainly don't obsess over it and Thanksgiving without turkey would be fine with me. What I really look forward to is the stuffing. And let me be clear, I really don't like most stuffing either. That mushy stuff that looks like baby food? Keep it away from me. I like southern cornbread and sausage stuffing. And no, my cornbread did not come in the form of dehydrated croutons (that is sacrilegious if you ask me). For my stuffing you make a good, hearty and savory cornbread. Mix it with onions, sausage, heavy cream and sherry and you have a little dish of heavy worth being thankful for.

DSC_6751

It is also the best leftover because it is SO good for breakfast. Just fry an egg or two, put them on top of your reheated stuffing and voila, instant southern breakfast! Being a "stovetop" stuffing, you can really make it as a side dish any day of the week with the roasted bird being entirely optional.

Cornbread Stuffing From Time Life Foods of the World: American Cooking

 

  • 8 T butter
  • 1 1⁄2 c finely chopped onion
  • 1 lb sausage meat
  • 1⁄2 t salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 t fresh thyme leaves
  • 1⁄4 c finely chopped parsley
  • 1⁄4 c dry madiera or sherry
  • 1⁄4 c heavy cream

Instructions


Cornbread for stuffing

1 ½ C. yellow cornmeal
1 C. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
1 T. baking powder
2 eggs
½ C. melted butter
1 ½ C. milk
Preheat the oven to 400º. Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Beat the eggs lightly, stir in the milk and add the melted butter. Pour into the bowl of dry ingredients and beat together for about a minute, or until smooth. Do not overbeat. Lightly butter an 8-by-12 inch shallow baking pan and pour in the batter. Bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the bread comes slightly away from the edge of the pan and is golden brown.

While your cornbread is baking:
Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet, add the chopped onions and cook over moderate heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until they color lightly. Scrape them in into a large mixing bowl. Add the sausage to the skillet, now set over medium heat, and break the meat up with a fork as it cools. When the meat is lightly browned, transfer it to a sieve set over a small bowl and let the fat drain through. Combine the drained sausage meat, cornbread crumbs, salt a few grindings of pepper, the thyme and parsley. With a large spoon, gently stir the ingredients together, then moisten with the sherry and cream. Taste for seasoning.

(The original recipes calls to brown the turkey liver in butter, then to chop and add it as well, but my mom always puts it in the gravy. I on the other hand usually end up with a Kosher Bird which doesn't include the innards)


Then there was dessert. We made a normal pumpkin pie, which is great and all. But then we all had to try this New England delicacy I found at Byerly's this week


DSC_6757

Apparently brown bread was created when most people New England didn't have ovens and cooked everything in a fireplace. The bread is essentially steamed rather than baked. I found a recipe so you can try it at home here, or you can go to the baked beans section of your grocery store and keep your fingers crossed that they too carry brown bread.

Taste profile: Well, it reminded me of eating really bland gingersnap cookie dough. It's definitely sticky and was pretty challenging to slice. I followed the recommended serving methods of toasting and microwaving along with serving it in its' raw state and I followed the suggestion of putting cream cheese on it. In summary, I wouldn't buy it again for any reason, but I might be inclined to try making it as a novelty if I had a lot of spare molasses on hand for some reason.