Let's talk food, from restaurants and recipes to farmers markets, food issues and wine. Lee Svitak Dean, Rick Nelson, Kim Ode and Bill Ward will start the conversation.

Posts about Recipes

Waste not: Repurpose bananas into terrific bread

Posted by: Lee Svitak Dean Updated: April 27, 2014 - 11:34 AM
Photo by Richard Sennott

Photo by Richard Sennott

The VEAP building (Volunteers Enlisted in Assisting People) in Bloomington, which houses the largest food shelf in Minnesota (and offers many social services), has a new commercial kitchen, and with it a new effort to make good use of surplus fruits and vegetables. Their first project was to repurpose bananas into banana bread. They tinkered with a recipe to make it more healthful (whole wheat flour, less sugar, more bananas, less fat). See it below. Have to say it tastes mighty good.

For more about the program, go to the story.


Makes 1 loaf.
Note: For the best flavor, use bananas that have lots of brown specks on the skin and that are slightly soft. Mash bananas with a table fork, potato masher or wire whisk; it’s fine to have small lumps remaining. A large, lengthwise crack in the thin, tender top crust of a quick bread is normal. From the kitchen of VEAP (Volunteers Enlisted in Assisting People) in Bloomington.

• 2 eggs
• 1/2 c. sugar (packed brown or granulated)
• 1/4 c. vegetable oil
• 1/4 c. fat-free or low-fat milk
• 2 tsp. vanilla
• 1 1/2 c. mashed very ripe bananas (5 to 6 medium) (see Note)
• 1 c. all-purpose flour
• 1 c. whole wheat flour
• 1 tsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon


Move oven rack to low position so that top of pan will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with shortening or spray with cooking spray.

In large bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil, milk and vanilla with wire whisk or spoon until smooth. Stir in mashed bananas until smooth. Stir in flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon with spoon or rubber scraper just until moistened. Pour into pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 10 minutes. With a knife, loosen sides of loaf from pan and remove from pan. Place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days or refrigerate up to 10 days.

Weekend baking: Blueberry buckle

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: April 7, 2014 - 11:09 AM

Monday is National Coffee Cake Day. Go figure.

When I hear coffee cake, my automatic word-association reflexes fly to one of my late grandmother’s recipes, one that is forever linked to my grandparents’ lake cabin.

Sugar Lake was a magical place in my childhood. It’s practically a far-ring suburb today – it’s about 10 miles south of Annandale, Minn. -- but in the pre-I-94 era the journey felt like a never-ending drive from my family's suburban Minneapolis home.

Grandma Gay had a Sugar Lake ritual, at least during blueberry season. She would alleviate her guests’ car weariness by greeting them with a slice or two of what I later discovered was an easy-to-prepare buckle, still warm from the oven.

Although it came off as an extra-special treat, her blueberry buckle was cloaked in practicality, using ingredients that were always on hand at the lake; no running into town for the sour cream or other coffee-cake staples that, inevitably, end up as a shopping list afterthought.

My guess is that, after countless summers, Grandma pulled her blueberry buckle together from memory. Fortunately, in the late 1970s, my sister Cheri thought to ask Grandma for the recipe. Treasure, right? I still have the card, written using a thick Flair pen, in Cheri’s tidy high-school cursive.

In honor of this momentous national holiday, I baked Grandma’s buckle this morning (using frozen berries discovered in the back of my freezer, picked last summer at Rush River Produce in Maiden Rock, Wis., pictured above), and our kitchen is perfumed with the loveliest scent.

If only I could open the windows and catch the breeze off the lake.


Serves 9.

Note: I suggest adding a teaspoon vanilla extract to the batter when incorporating the milk, and maybe include a 3/4 cup toasted chopped pecans to the topping, two ingredients that probably weren't regulars in the Olsens' 1960s cabin pantry. 

For cake:

2 c. flour, plus extra for pan

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pan

3/4 c. sugar

1 egg

1/2 c. whole milk, at room temperature

2 c. blueberries

For topping:

1/2 c. sugar

1/3 c. flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 c. (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces


To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x9-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low and alternately add flour mixture and milk in thirds, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just combined. Carefully fold blueberries into batter and pour batter into prepared baking pan.

To prepare topping: In a medium bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter and, using your fingers, press together until combined (dough will be lumpy). Spoon mixture evenly on top of batter. Bake 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and cool pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Best cookbooks of year get nod from IACP

Posted by: Lee Svitak Dean Updated: March 18, 2014 - 10:35 AM

Award season has begun in the cookbook world as the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) bestowed its nod to volumes that are particularly noteworthy over the weekend. Among the new designations in the contest this year are awards for classic, historical and e-cookbooks. 

The envelope (and categories), please …  

Book of the year: “Stone Edge Farm Cookbook,” by John McReynolds (Stone Edge Farm)

American: “The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen,” by Matt Lee & Ted Lee (Clarkson Potter)
Baking/ savory or sweet: “The Art of French Pastry,” by Jacquy Pfeiffer (Random House)
Beverage/ reference/ technical: “The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food & Drink in America, Second Edition,” by Andrew F. Smith (Oxford University Press)
Chefs and restaurants: “The A.O.C. Cookbook,” by Suzanne Goin (Random House)
Children, youth and family: “ChopChop: The Kids’ Guide to Cooking Real Food With Your Family,” by Sally Sampson (Simon & Schuster)
Compilations: “The Chelsea Market Cookbook: 100 Recipes From New York’s Premier Indoor Food Hall,” by Michael Phillips with Rick Rodgers (Stewart, Tabori & Chang)
Culinary history: “Cuisine & Empire: Cooking in World History,” by Rachel Laudan (University of California Press)
Culinary travel: “The Perfect Meal,” by John Baxter (HarperCollins Publishers)
First book: “Stone Edge Farm Cookbook,” by John McReynolds (Stone Edge Farm)
Food matters: “Eat, Drink, Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics,” by Marion Nestle (Rodale) and “Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health,” by Jo Robinson (Hachette Book Group)
General: “Keepers,” by Kathy Brennan & Caroline Campion (Rodale)
Health and special diet: “Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening With Twelve Families From the Edible Plant Kingdom,” by Deborah Madison (Ten Speed Press)
International: “Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way,” by Oretta Zanini De Vita & Maureen B. Fant (W.W. Norton & Co.)
Literary food writing: “One Soufflé at a Time,” by Anne Willan and Amy Friedman (St. Martin’s Press)
Photography: “I Love New York: Ingredients and Recipes,” by Daniel Humm & Will Guidara (Francesco Tonelli, photographer) (Ten Speed Press)
Professional kitchens: “Elements of Dessert,” by Francisco Migoya and the Culinary Institute of America (Wiley)
Single subject: “Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook,” by Rick Mast and Michael Mast (Hachette Book Group)
Wine, beer and spirits: “Wine Grapes,” by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding & Jose Vouillamoz (HarperCollins Publishers)
Global design: “Manresa: An Edible Reflection,” by David Kinch & Christine Muhlke (Ten Speed Press)
E-cookbook: “The Journey,” by Katy Sparks, Alex Raij, Maneet Chauhan, Rita Sodi and Kathleen Squires (Alta Editions)
Jane Grigson award: “Wine Grapes,” by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding & Jose Vouillamoz (HarperCollins Publishers)
Design award: “Mr. Wilkinson’s Vegetables: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Garden,” by Matt Wilkinson (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers)
Judges’ choice: “The Drunken Botanist,” by Amy Stewart (Workman Publishing Co.) and “ Lark – Cooking Against the Grain,” by John Sundstrom (Community Supported Cookbooks)
Historical cookbook award: “American Cookery,” by Amelia Simmons (1796)

Culinary classics awards:
• “The Art of Mexican Cooking,” by Diana Kennedy (Clarkson Potter, 1989)
• “Invitation to Indian Cookery,” by Madhur Jaffrey (Knopf, 1973)
• “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook” (originally “Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book”), by Betty Crocker (1950)
• “The Moosewood Cookbook,” by Mollie Katzen (Ten Speed, 1977)
• “The Silver Palate Cookbook,” by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (Workman, 1982)

For details on the digital, journalism and other IACP awards, see the posting in full. 

But the big news from Taste is that freelancer Steve Hoffman won the award for Culinary Narrative Writing with his story for the food section, "From the wild: meals from a hunter," that ran on Thanksgiving Day. Find it here.

Follow Lee Svitak Dean on Twitter: @StribTaste

Roasted garlic recipes

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: March 15, 2014 - 3:51 PM

This week's Sunday Supper recipe is just one example of roasted garlic's versatility and utility. Here are four others.


Serves 4 as a side dish.

Note: From “The Farm” by Ian Knauer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30).

1 whole garlic head

1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 c. chicken stock

1 c. water

1 c. cornmeal

1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 c. mascarpone cheese


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Rub off most but not all of garlic’s outer papery skins. Using a serrated knife, cut off the top 1/2 inch from the bulb. Place garlic in a shallow baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Add 2 tablespoons water to bottom of pan, cover with aluminum foil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and roast for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until cloves are pliable and slightly browned. Remove from oven and cool until ready to handle.

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring stock and water to boil. Whisk in cornmeal in a slow stream. Squeeze garlic cloves from their skins, then add to polenta, along with rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Cook the polenta, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently toward the end of cooking, until it is thickened and soft to the chew, 45 minutes to an hour, depending upon the grind of your cornmeal. Whisk in mascarpone, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.


Serves 4.

Note: Adapted from “A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen” by Jack Bishop (Houghton Mifflin, $35).

For garlic:

1 whole garlic head

1 1/2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided


For pasta:

1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb. penne pasta

10 oz. (about 2 c.) cherry tomatoes

1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes

12 large fresh basil leaves, slivered


To prepare garlic: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Rub off most but not all of garlic’s outer papery skins. Using a serrated knife, cut off the top 1/2 inch from the bulb. Place garlic in a shallow baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Add 2 tablespoons water to bottom of pan, cover with aluminum foil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and roast for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until cloves are pliable and slightly browned. Remove from oven and cool until ready to handle.

Remove cloves from skin and place in a small bowl. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and, using a fork, work the garlic into a coarse puree.

To prepare pasta: Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot for cooking the pasta. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water and drain pasta.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add cherry tomatoes and salt to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic puree and pepper flakes and cook just until heated through, about 1 minute.

Toss drained pasta with garlic-tomato sauce and basil, adding reserved cooking liquid as necessary to moisten pasta. Serve immediately.


Serves 8.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. From “Gail Gand’s Brunch!” by Gail Gand (Clarkson Potter, $27.50).

4 whole garlic heads

4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Butter for pan

5 c. cubed baguette (with crust)

2 c. grated Fontina chese

10 eggs

1 qt. whole milk

1 tsp. dried mustard

1 tsp. salt

1 c. frozen chopped spinach

1 c. Italian salami, cut into matchsticks


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Rub off most but not all of garlic’s outer papery skins. Using a serrated knife, cut off the top 1/2 inch from the bulb. Place garlic in a shallow baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Add 2 tablespoons water to bottom of pan, cover with aluminum foil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and roast for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until cloves are pliable and slightly browned. Remove from oven and cool until ready to handle. Roughly chop and reserve.

Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish. Place bread cubes in dish and sprinkle with cheese. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mustard and salt. Pour egg mixture over bread cubes. Sprinkle spinach, salami and roasted garlic over egg mixture and fold them in gently. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove plastic wrap and bake until mixture has puffed up slightly and is golden brown on top, and strata doesn’t shimmy with uncooked custard when you shake the pan, about 60 minutes (tent the dish with aluminum foil if top is browning too quickly). Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Spoon by the spoonful, using a large serving spoon.


Makes about 2 cups.

Note: From “Reasons to Roast” by Georgia Chan Downard and Evie Righter (Houghton Mifflin, $15).

2 whole garlic heads

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 c. low-fat plain yogurt

1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened

1/2 c. sour cream

1 tbsp. freshly minced chives

Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Raw cut fresh vegetables such as carrots, celery, radishes, cucumbers, red bell peppers and zucchini


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Rub off most but not all of garlic’s outer papery skins. Using a serrated knife, cut off the top 1/2 inch from the bulb. Place garlic in a shallow baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Add 2 tablespoons water to bottom of pan, cover with aluminum foil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and roast for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until cloves are pliable and slightly browned. Remove from oven and cool until ready to handle.

In a food processor, combine cream cheese, sour cream and yogurt. Add roasted garlic and process until smooth.

Transfer mixture to a serving bowl and stir in chives. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste and stir to thoroughly combine. Serve with vegetables.

Walz wins hotdish competition

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: March 12, 2014 - 6:40 PM

For the second consecutive year, Rep. Tim Walz has won the fourth-annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Off, which was held today in Washington, D.C.

The good-natured bipartisan competition, hosted by Sen. Al Franken, always yields some clippable recipes (find all 10 of them here).

It's no suprise that members of the delegation take the opportunity to offer somewhat shameless shout-outs to Minnesota-based food companies, including Hormel, Jennie-O (Walz), Crystal Sugar, Kemps, Land O'Lakes (Sen. Amy Klobuchar), MOM Brands (Rep. John Kline) and Green Giant (Rep. Michele Bachmann). But hey, wouldn't you?

Just two recipes required (the cyncial may say pandered to) what is perhaps the Gopher State's most famous ingredient, wild rice: "Ranger's Hunting Camp Hotdish" from Rep. Rick Nolan, and Rep. Betty McCollum's "Minnesota Wild Rice and Chicken Hotdish." Franken's recipe calls for U of M-developed Honeycrisp apples.

Three required that church-basement hotdish staple, cream of mushroom soup: Rep. Collin Peterson's "Hunter Hotdish" (which earns kudos for its use of ground venison, underscoring the politician-hunting connection), Nolan's "Ranger's Hunting Camp Hotdish" (see previous elected-official-in-the-gun-blind observation) and Rep. John Kline's "Morning Hot Chow Hotdish."

Walz's recipe requires a do-it-yourself cream of mushroom soup, which probably goes a long way in explaining its appeal.

I'd like to offer a few additional honors. This year's They Were Robbed award goes to Sen. Al Franken's delicious-sounding roasted pork sausage-apple-sauerkraut conconction, although that layer of mashed potatoes might explain its also-ran status.

Rep. Erik Paulsen wins the Phoning-It-In medal for his "Grandma's Minnesota Nice Mock Lasagna," for two reasons: Ragu spaghetti sauce. And the words "mock lasagna."

The Most Responsive to Conditions Back Home medallion belongs to the "It's So Cold My Hotdish Froze" dessert hotdish from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a freezer dessert involving a peanut butter-cream cheese-Cool Whip custard in a Golden Grahams (a General Mills product, naturally) crust, although just reading it makes my teeth hurt.

As for the Best Name award, it's no contest: Rep. Michele Bachmann's "Polar Vortex-Mex Hotdish."

Here's Walz's winning recipe, re-written in a more follow-able format:


Serves 4 to 6.

Note: From Rep. Tim Walz.

1 lb. ground turkey

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 tsp. dried sage

1 egg

1/2 c. chopped green onions

1 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more as needed

2 tsp. salt, divided

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 lb. of fresh green beans, stems removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces

4 slices bacon

6 tbsp. butter, divided

1 1/2  c. chopped baby bella mushrooms 

5 to 6 tbsp. flour

2 1/2 c  whole milk

1/2 c. half and half

1/4 c. chopped onions

3 c. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided

1 32-oz. package Tater Tots


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine turkey, garlic, sage, green onions, egg, pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. In a skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and then brown the turkey mixture. Remove from stove and transfer mixture to a large bowl. 

In a pot of boiling water, blanch green beans for 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove beans and plunge them into ice water. Once cool, drain completely and add to turkey mix.

In a skillet over medium heat, fry bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, and cool bacon on paper towels. Chop bacon into 1/4-inch pieces and add to turkey mix. Gently combine turkey mix, beans and bacon and spread in an even layer in a 9x13-inch baking pan.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons butter. As soon foam begins to subside, add mushrooms and cook, stirring continuously, until mushrooms are browned, about 4 to 6 minutes.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Slowly and evenly sprinkle flour into the butter. Cook for 2 minutes, then slowly whisk in the milk and half and half. Cook for 2 more minutes, then add diced onions, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. After 1 minute, stir in 2 1/2 cups cheese and cook, stirring, until melted. Pour cheese mixture evenly over casserole. Scatter Tater Tots over the top, then scatter remaining shredded cheese. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters