Friday, June 26, 2009

Food Safety and the 4th

With the 4th of July coming already next week it seems like a good time to review food safety. Poultry was the most common source of "food poisoning" in 2006 according to an article in the NY Times. It was followed by leafy vegetables and fruits and nuts.

Poultry most often causes illness relates to clostridium perfringens. One a food has been left out at room temperature the spores that form and lead to illness can survive cooking so food storage is critical.

Salmonella was the second leading source of food-related outbreaks (peanut butter, spinach and tomatoes).

Rinsing fresh fruits and vegetables will decrease their ability to cause illness, but if they become contaminated in the field there isn't much a consumer can do.

With this information two things are clear:

1. The FDA must reform and improve its' food safety programs to protect the public.

2. Anytime, but especially in the warm summer months, chill food thoroughly before packing and keep it cold (40 degrees F. or lower).

3. Keep hot foods hot, that is, over 140 degrees F.

And take advantage of summer, especially in Minnesota, it ends too quickly.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"World famous Juicy Lucy"

Yesterday we went to the 5-8 Club in south Minneapolis and everyone had a "juicy lucy" burger. The original is 8 ounces of ground beef with a large chunk of American cheese in the center. The burger was grilled medium well with a little crunch on the out side but it was still juicy and the cheese oozed out when you took a bite.

The 5-8 Club started as a speakeasy during prohibition and is still going strong. There is some question as to whether this is the original "juicy lucy" or if Matt's which is further north on Cedar Av serves the original.

Next time, we're off to Matt's!

Monday, June 15, 2009

112 Eatery is Unique

Saturday night we celebrated our anniversary with dinner at 112 Eatery. It is in an historic building in the Minneapolis warehouse district, very small and very busy. The only reservation we could get was for 5 p.m. we had a comfy booth surrounded in dark wood with comfortable benches. We started with a bottle of Pacific Rim Riesling from Bonnie Doon winery. The wine list has many reasonably priced bottles of wine.

The menu had appetizers, sides, entrees and desserts. We started with an appetizer salad- romaine leaves with Roquefort dressing. The dressing was a vinaigrette which was a pleasant surprise and the salad was topped with crumbled blue cheese and toasted bread crumbs that added a satisfying crunch.

My entree was the seafood cutlets with leek relish. The cutlets were actually similar to a crab cake but consisted of shrimp, crabmeat and scallops. It was served with a curry aioli and topped with lightly sauteed leeks. The leeks looked pretty but had little flavor.

My husband had a country style pork rib with picante sauce (sold by the rib) and Chinese fried eggs. For sides we shared cauliflower fritters and pan fried gnocchi. I didn't like the gnocchi as its center was very soft.

At dessert we tried two there and brought one home! I enjoyed Nancy Silverton's Butterscoth Budino ( a very rich pudding topped with butterscotch sauce, whipped cream and sea salt). My husband gave pecan coconut cake a la mode rave reviews.

Some unique items on the menu- duck & radicchio salad, proscuitto, grapefruit and mint salad, lamb scottadito with goats milk yogurt, tagliatelle with fois gras meatballs, nori encrusted sirloin with ponzu.

A delicious and unique meal in a comfortable atmosphere with attentive wait staff!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cranberry Orange Scones

These scones were a big hit at my lunch on Monday and several people asked for the recipe. I actually developed the recipe for the Mill City Museum to use with their 1-lb bags of flour. I like this recipe because it makes 16 scones. I freeze any extras and heat them in the microwave before serving. Don't skip the orange peel as it adds a lot of flavor.

Cranberry Orange Scones

Makes 16

1 lb. bag all-purpose flour (3 ¾ cups)
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
¾ cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup milk
½ cup honey
¼ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
¾ cup dried cranberries

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine milk, honey and orange juice and stir into flour mixture. Stir with a fork until a soft dough forms. Add cranberries.

Place dough a well-floured surface and knead gently 8 to 10 times until the dough just holds together. Divide dough in half. Press each half into a 7-inch round about 1/2–inch thick. Cut each into 8 wedges. Place wedges on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Copyright 2007 Pat Sinclair, author of Baking Basics and Beyond

Monday, June 8, 2009

Slovenian Easter Brunch- A Little Late

When we were in Chicago last week we were treated to a traditional Slovenian Easter Brunch. Our friends had brought it from Cleveland as a treat for their sons. Every Easter the head of the family takes the food for Easter Brunch to be blessed on Holy Saturday. These customs come from centuries in the past.

The traditional foods include sausages, colorful hard cooked eggs, doughnuts called kruhki and potica, a ground nut filled bread. The kruhki are made from a yeast risen dough and fried. (They tasted like jelly doughnuts without the jelly!) Our friend learned how to make the special sausage from his grandfather many years ago. Horseradish is served traditionally but we enjoyed mustard instead.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Green City Market- Chicago

Last week we were on a road trip to Chicago and Indiana. It was a multi-cultural eating event (more later). On Saturday we went to the Green City Market in Lincoln Park, named one of the top organic markets in the US by Alice Waters. Their goal is to support "the highest quality sustainable agriculture".

It's asparagus time! Locally grown organic asparagus was heaped high on many farmers' tables. We purchased a bunch that had been picked on Friday. (Many of the farmers leave home in the middle of the night to be there for the 7 a.m. opening.) It was crisp and delicately flavored and certainly the freshest I have ever eaten.

Because it's is still early in the season the fresh produce was limited. We also saw tables of mushrooms, rhubarb and many herbs, green plants and fresh flowers. Poultry and pork farmers were also there along with several cheese makers from Wisconsin. We bought an unusual cheese that needs to be heated and samples were being grilled. It softens but doesn't melt.

Toim Laurell from Bin 36 restaurant was doing a demo but unfortunately we were too late to get recipes. While we watched he created a simple method for cooking cherries in port sous vide.

I have a fabulous photo of asparagus that I'll post tonight after I download it.