Friday, January 29, 2010

Vinaigrette- A New Specialty Store

Today I met two friends for breakfast and afterward we went on a foodie adventure. This is the kind of day I plan whenever I'm visiting a new area but don't take time often enough when I'm home.

We started at Vinaigrette, a new shop located at 50th and Xerxes in Minneapolis. It is an unusual store that basically only sells two foods- oil and vinegar. But not just any oil and vinegar.

When you walk in the door, you are facing four long narrow tables that contain metal barrels with spigots. Two of the tables feature extra virgin olive oils, starting with a mild flavored Egyptian oil and increasing in fruity flavor to end with a fruit-ful Italian. These oils are very fresh and fragrant. In addition, the store carries flavored oils such as roasted garlic, orange, oregano and truffle. I sampled the truffle oil. When I first smelled it, I thought I picked up the scent of garlic but after tasting the woodsy, earthy mushroom flavor of truffles came through.

It was even more fun to taste the vinegars. Flavors included pear balsamic, fig balsamic, cherry balsamic and aged balsamic. The combination of the fig balsamic and orange oil makes any salad greens sparkle. The balsamic di modena has been aged 18 years and is sweet and syrupy.

Each oil or vinegar can be purchased in three sizes. I purcahsed the smallest (5 ounces. I'ts great to be able to purchase a smaller bottle since our household of two can take a long time to finish a 16 ounces bottle.

The bottles are filled from the "barrels" and sealed with plastic. Tonight I'm drizzling a little aged balsamic over some blue cheese and whisking up a vinaigrette for the "house salad"- walnuts, cried cranberries and mixed greens.

Their web site is

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A New Kind of Bakery

Last weekend we visited my daughter in Chicago.On her block of North Clark there is an interesting range of restaurants.

Top of my list is Molly's Cupcake Bakery. Right now our favorites are Carrot Cake with Browned Butter Frosting and Pumpkin with a Mascarpone filling. And I can't omit Turtle! Our favorites change with the seasons but Chocolate with Buttercream and Red Velvet are always very popular

We tried the Meatloaf Bakery for the first time. They serve eight different meat loaves in three sizes. Mini-cupcake, cupcakes and loaves. My favorites were "NO BUNS ABOUT IT"- a deconstructed cheeseburger with beef, bacon, Cheddar, pickles and topped with Cheesy Taters.

We also tried healthy "OMEGA-3 LOAF"- Alaskan caught salmon with lemon, parsley and dill, topped with wasabi mashed potatoes and serve with a yogurt dill sauce.

Other choices include THE MOTHER LOAF, A WING AND A PRAYER, LOAF-A-ROMA AND YENTIL-LENTIL, EL LOAFA DEL FUEGO. The titles are pretty much self-explanatory.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Year: New Lists

This is the time of year when everybody has a list of things to do or see or eat during 2010 and I'm no different. I have a list of simple ways to improve my health by what I eat. I've just written an article on Whole Grains so it's good place to start.

Studies show that consuming whole grains (try for at least 3 servings per day) reduces the risk of strokes, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Whole Grains include barley, whole wheat, quinoa, whole wheat cous cous, whole wheat pasta, brown rice. For products containing wheat it's important that the ingredient list includes the word "whole" in front of wheat.

Multi-grain foods may not contain any whole grains but usually have a significant amount of fiber. I'm not a big fan of whole wheat pasta, but do like multi-grain varieties which contain as much as 4g of fiber per serving.

Include barley and brown rice in soups or side dishes. I cook 4 serving of brown rice in my small rice cooker and have enough for two meals.

Here's a recipe for Curried Cous Cous for two. I like cous cous and the fact that it takes only 5 minutes to cook. I can't tell much difference in whole wheat cous cous and use it exclusively.

Curried Cous Cous

Cous cous is one of the easiest side dishes to prepare at the last minute since it only requires broth, salt and cous cous. Whole wheat cous cous has great nutritional value. Depending on the main dish, I often add chopped peanuts and a few raisins if I’m serving this with a simple entree.

Makes 2 servings

1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup whole wheat cous cous
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Heat the chicken broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the cous cous, peas, curry powder and salt. Let stand about 5 minutes or until the broth is absorbed. Add parsley and fluff with a fork.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Golden Fig- A New Favorite

Yesterday I stopped at the Golden Fig on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. It's exactly the kind of store I search out when I'm traveling but hadn't gone across the river to visit. At a recent meeting of Les Dames d'Escoffier a friend mentioned the Sel de Cuisne,a savory salt containing sea salt, rosemary, tarragon,garlic, peppers and Cinnamon that the Golden Fig makes and sells. She said "It's makes everything taste better" so I tested her theory.

I sprinkled it on some reheated green beans leftover from a recent meal. It was amazing how much difference it made. Next I'm going to rub it on a chicken breast before sauteing.

Another product I tried was the Vanilla Caramel Sauce mentioned in the Star Tribune. Let's just say that it makes a delicious dessert 'by the spoonful'. After the mention in the Star Tribune, they went crazy preparing it in their Minneapolis kitchen to meet the sudden need. I plan to try it on Apple Crisp and to top a Brownie Sundae.

Here's their web site: