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.

Landon Schoenefeld named Master of the Market

Posted by: Lee Svitak Dean under Chefs, Farmers markets, Locally-produced food, Minnesota newsmakers Updated: August 19, 2014 - 12:29 PM
Landon Schoenefeld. Photos by Lee Svitak Dean

Landon Schoenefeld. Photos by Lee Svitak Dean

Officially, Landon Schoenefeld of HauteDish in Minneapolis is the winner of this year's Chef Challenge at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. He earned the title of Master of the Market with his Chilled Cream of Tomato Soup, with layers of flavor that included an eggplant puree and a medley of gorgeous summer mini-vegetables that was the backbone of a ratatouille, to be blanketed with a luscious cream of tomato puree.

But the real winner is the home cook, who can make this deceptively simple recipe for dinner -- as well as the one from his competitor, Drew Yancey, executive chef of Borough. Drew prepared his take on the classic Spanish sauce romesco and served it as part of a carefully plated display of beautiful fresh, carefully prepared vegetables. 

The dueling efforts show how technique, great ingredients and a good eye are important in the prep of not only restaurant-quality dishes, but those we prepare for the ones who gather at our table. 

Here's how the competition worked: With 20 minutes and $50, each chef raced to buy their ingredients among the stalls at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. Then, with a 30-minute limit for prep, the chefs served up their dishes to four judges: Lynne Rossetto Kasper of the radio show “The Splendid Table;” Ragahvan Iyer, cookbook author; Stephanie Meyer of Minnesota Monthly, and me.

The North Loop Neighborhood Association donated $500 to YouthLink Homeless Shelter, in honor of the competition. The funds will be used to continue cooking lessons that emphasize quick and easy meals with local ingredients. For the recipes, see below.

The competition is sponsored by Country Financial. 

Drew Yancey of Borough

Drew Yancey of Borough


Romesco with Market Vegetables
Makes about 2 cups sauce.
Note: From Drew Yancey, executive chef at Borough, in Minneapolis.
• 4 red bell peppers
• 3 fresno or red chiles
• 1 medium tomato, peeled and chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, chopped
• 2 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves only)
• Olive oil
• Salt
• 2 tbsp. hazelnuts, toasted
• 2 tbsp. breadcrumbs, toasted
• Red wine vinegar
• Fresh mint or parsley, chopped, optional
• Variety of vegetables
• Lemon juice 
• Herbs of choice
Start by roasting the bell peppers and chile peppers over your grill. (If a grill is not accessible, roast at 450 degrees until the skins have blistered.) Allow the skins to become black and charred. Place peppers in a container and allow to sweat for a few minutes. Under cold water, rub the blistered skin off and take the seeds out of the peppers.  
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a roasting pan, place peeled peppers, tomato, garlic, thyme, 1/8 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Place pan in oven and roast for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes. This mixture should be lightly colored and dry of excess vegetable juices in the pan.
Transfer this mixture to a food processor. Add the toasted hazelnuts and toasted breadcrumbs. Process for about 2 minutes. Check seasoning. Add more salt and red wine vinegar to season to taste. If you would like, fold in parsley or mint. 
Serve the romesco sauce with your favorite market/garden vegetables. Vegetables may be roasted, seared, grilled or raw. Finish with fresh lemon juice and fresh herbs.


Cream of Tomato Soup by Landon Schoenefeld

Cream of Tomato Soup by Landon Schoenefeld


Chilled Cream of Tomato Soup
Serves many.
Note: This was the winning recipe, from Landon Schoenefeld, chef/co-owner of HauteDish in Minneapolis, from the Master of the Market competition at the Minneapolis Farmers Market.
• Eggplant purée (see recipe)
• Ratatouille (see recipe)
• Garnishes: Sliced heirloom cherry tomatoes (the more variety and color the better), pickled teardrop peppers (or substitute peppadew), tiny fresh basil leaves, sea salt, olive oil
• Cream of Tomato Soup base (see recipe)
Put a pool of the charred eggplant purée on the bottom of each soup bowl. Add a nice scoop of the ratatouille on top. Arrange the sliced heirloom tomatoes and peppers artfully around the ratatouille and eggplant purée. Carefully top with the tiny basil leaves and flecks of sea salt. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Let your guests bask in the wonder and glory of the season, before you pour the soup base over the vegetables. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Charred Eggplant Puree
Makes about 1 1/2 cups. 
Note: From Landon Schoenefeld, chef/co-owner of HauteDish in Minneapolis.
• 1 large eggplant
• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
• Juice of 1 to 2 lemons
• Salt to taste
Char the eggplant over an open flame until it is completely black and burnt. Purée with the olive oil and lemon juice; season with salt.

Makes about 4 cups.
Note: From Landon Schoenefeld, chef/co-owner of HauteDish in Minneapolis.
• 1 medium eggplant, fine diced
• Olive oil
• 1 zucchini, fine diced
• 1 summer squash, fine diced
• 1/2 red onion, fine diced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 c. finely chopped sweet pickled peppers
• 8 fresh basil leaves, cut in chiffonade (in thin strips)
• 1/4 finely chopped tomato
• Salt
In a sauté pan over medium heat, sweat the eggplant in olive oil until golden brown; drain in a colander. In the same sauté pan over medium heat, sweat the zucchini and summer squash together in more olive oil until softened; drain in a colander. 
In the same pan, sweat the red onion in more olive oil until soft. At the last second, add the garlic and sweat for a moment more before draining in a colander. At this point you can combine all the sautéed vegetables together in a mixing bowl and add the pickled peppers, basil, tomato and enough olive oil to dress the vegetables. Season with salt. 

Cream of Tomato Soup Base
Makes about 8 1/2 cups. 
Note: From Landon Schoenefeld, chef/co-owner of HauteDish in Minneapolis.
• 6 large ripe heirloom tomatoes (he used a mixture of Brandywine, Candy Old Yellow and Black Krim)
• 2 to 3 garlic cloves
• 20 leaves of basil
• 1 1/2 tbsp. sea salt 
• 1/2 c. local honey
• 1 c. cream
• 1 c. extra-virgin olive oil
Cut the tomatoes up in large chunks and toss with garlic, basil, salt and honey. Allow the tomato mixture to macerate for 15 to 20 minutes. 
Purée the tomatoes in a blender for up to 5 minutes or until completely smooth. Add the cream and olive oil with the blender running and purée for a minute more. Adjust the seasoning with additional salt and honey if needed.

Burger Friday: Lyn 65 Kitchen & Bar

Posted by: Rick Nelson under Restaurant reviews Updated: August 15, 2014 - 3:00 PM

The burger: After logging nearly six years in the kitchen at Restaurant Alma, chef Benjamin Rients has set out on his own. After what appeared to be an endless construction process, his Lyn 65 Kitchen & Bar quietly opened last week.

At the menu’s center is something far outside Rient’s Alma orbit: a burger. Scratch that. A phenomenal burger.

“I want to set us apart from Alma,” he said. “I want this to be a neighborhood place, and a burger is important to a neighborhood place. Besides, I absolutely love cheeseburgers. We’re approaching it the way you would at a fine-dining restaurant. Why not take some craft and put that into a burger? ”

Why not, indeed. The unseen mechanics are suitably impressive. And elaborate. The patty owes its ultra-rich aura to fat-laced short ribs, cured for 48 hours in salt, peppercorns, garlic, red onion, parsley and thyme. A grind blended with chuck and sirloin – the arithmetic is roughly 50 percent short rib, 25 percent chuck and 25 percent sirloin – is hand-formed into patties and grilled on a flattop. “That way, the patty sits in its own fat and caramelizes,” said Rients. “It’s using the fat that’s already there.”

When the patty comes off the grill, it gets a brief respite in, yes, more fat. Butter, specifically. “It’s the way we were taught at Alma, to rest our proteins,” said Rients. “If you have that fat underneath, it acts as a natural barrier, and the patty might not release as much of its juices.”

It works. When I cut into the patty, its gently crusted char revealed a velvety, unabashedly pink, tantalizingly juicy center. “We’re shooting for medium to medium-rare,” said Rients. “But we’ll take it to well-done if that’s what people want. I respect that. People should be able to get what they want to get.”

The burger was inspired by a trip Rients and his wife made to Chicago a number of years ago, which included a meal at Bandera. The experience obviously made an impression.

“It was right when I started cooking, and the only thing we could afford was the burger,” he said with a laugh. “It was amazing, and really the first time I had a burger that I’d been shocked by. They borrowed elements of the classic Chicago hot dog. I’ve been thinking about that flavor profile for a long time.”

Naturally, a fine-dining level of care and feeding goes into the garnishes. The top of the lower bun gets a generous swipe of coarse mustard. That's covered with a layer of dill pickles, which serves as a protective barrier between doughy bun and juice-laden patty.

A second pickle treatment -- this time, a sweet pickle relish blended with chopped raw onions -- is spooned over the patty. Both add a much-needed acidic note to counter the beef’s powerful voluptuousness, as does the slice of an obviously well-raised tomato. Rounding out the equation is a crinkled lettuce leaf and a well-composed house-made mayonnaise. As with all classic formulas, this one works. And how.

From the get-go, Rients planned to call upon American cheese. “I love American on a cheeseburger,” he said. “It’s what belongs on a cheeseburger. It melts the best, it’s salty, and it’s perfect in a hipster-ish kind of way, you know? The ‘Ah, who cares, let’s put American on this thing.’”  

As for the bun, it’s ok. Not bad – more than serviceable, actually -- but it doesn’t measure up to the fellow  components. Rients is on it, already toying with switching it out for a pretzel bun. “We’re going to be constantly changing things,” he said.

From a profit-and-loss standpoint, Is a cheeseburger worth all of this effort? “I’m going to say ‘Yes,’” said Rients. “At least until I can’t stand it any longer.”

Price: $13.

Fries: Included. Although they’re well-seasoned and obviously fresh, their pale color and forgettable texture makes them a bit of a shoulder shrug.  

Beyond burgers: The fried chicken is a Lyn 65 must-order, a revelation in the opposites-attract formula that is delicately crisp and outrageously juicy. Rooted in a David Chang recipe, the painstakingly labor-intensive process would quickly knock KFC out of business, but then again the Colonel’s fried chicken never tasted like this.

Like the burger, Rients enlists his four-star kitchen know-how to elevate the familiar. The birds are cured for two days, then soaked in buttermilk. Borrowing a technique behind superior-quality French fries, the chicken is cooked twice. First comes a low-temperature poach in duck fat (“We’re huge fans of duck fat over here,” said Rients), followed by a dredge in a (gluten-free!) rice flour- rice panko mixture. Then it’s taken to maximum crispiness in rice bran oil, a chef favorite for all kinds of reasons: a high smoke point, an ability to keep fried food from feeling greasy and a gift for maintaining a neutral flavor profile. 

At the fryer, Rients and his crew take what is clearly destined to become a signature dish to a deep, mouth-watering mahogany, and the meat radiates succulent chicken-ey goodness. The portion – very nearly a whole chicken – could easily feed two, and that’s before considering the highly complementary side dishes, including a crunchy, sneakily spicy coleslaw and wickedly creamy grits. The whole shebang is a steal at $20.

Snap out of it: There’s a reason why Rients’ cramped workspace is presided over by a poster-size image of Nicolas Cage, taken from one of Rients’ favorite movies, “Moonstruck.” “It reminds me of this place,” he said, describing the scene where a sweat-soaked Cage is stoking a wood-burning oven in a stifling basement bakery. “We’ve got this 1,000-degree oven going at all times, it’s hot and sweaty here. [The poster] is our good luck charm.”

Address book: 6439 Lyndale Av. S., Richfield, 612-353-5501. Dinner served 4 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Bar open to midnight Monday through Thursday, to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday and to 11 p.m. Sunday.

Talk to me: Do you have a favorite burger? Share the details at rick.nelson@startribune.com.

Modern Cafe celebrating 20 years

Posted by: Rick Nelson under Food, beer, wine events, Restaurant news Updated: August 5, 2014 - 9:27 AM

When a restaurant is as firmly entrenched in the city’s dining-out psyche as the Modern Cafe, it’s easy to take it for granted.

But given its influential track record, the restaurant that everyone shorthands to “the Modern” deserves better. Ever since the day in 1994 when Jim and Patty Grell opened their contemporary diner in the home of the beloved Rabatin’s Northeast Cafe, the Modern has played a key role in reviving the neighborhood and the Twin Cities' food-and-drink scene.

Twenty years in the restaurant industry is a milestone worthy of a major celebration, and the Grells are delivering just that, with a series of celebratory dinners taking place every night this week.

From Tuesday through Friday, the kitchen is setting aside its regular menu -- sorry, no pot roast -- and preparing a special six-course dinner. The evenings' dishes have been created by previous Modern chefs, who will also be spending specific evenings back in their old stomping grounds. Here’s the rundown, dish-wise and chef-wise:

* Salmon with sweet corn polenta, yellow tomato puree and puffed farro salad by Phillip Becht of the soon-to-open Victor’s on Water. Becht was at the Modern from 2003 to 2011, and he will be appearing Tuesday.

* Pork and beans, by Mike Phillips of Red Table Meat Co. Philips was at the Modern from 1995 to 1998, and he will be appearing Wednesday.

* Potato gnocchi, with pork confit and brown butter hollandaise by Scott Pampuch of the University of Minnesota. Pampuch was at the Modern from 1996 to 2003, and he will be appearing Thursday.

* Walleye egg rolls with dill and ginger kimchi, by Matt Morgan of the Bachelor Farmer. Morgan was at the Modern from 1994 to 1996, and he will be appearing Friday.

* Creamed corn, with smoked green tomato creme fraiche butter by Ella Wesenberg, who has been the Modern's chef de cuisine since 2009. She will be appearing Saturday.

* Dessert will include Donnay Dairy's Granite Ridge Chevre, Ames Farm honey and house-made chocolate truffles.

Price? A very Modern-esque $55. No reservations.

"It has been really fun to get all these chefs together," said Jim Grell, adding that each is going to contribute an amuse-bouche or two on the night they visit. "Mike is going to bring his slicer in, he's got a four-year-old prosciutto," said Grell. "And Matt is set on making Ritz crackers with peanut butter and pickles."

The bar will feature cocktails prepared with 45th Parallel spirits (including a demonstration on Saturday from the distillery’s Scott Davis) and beers by Fulton Brewery.

On Saturday, the focus is taking a major turn. "We're going to scrap the entire menu and make fried chicken," said Jim Grell. All of the details haven't been hammered out just yet. "We're still kind of putting it all together," he said. "But it's going to be cheap, and we'll be doing great sides, too."

Grell added that he has one hope for Saturday's festivities. "That the plumbing will back up," he deadpanned. "Like it did on the very first day, 20 years ago. At least this time, I'll know what to do."

Burger Friday: Tongue in Cheek

Posted by: Rick Nelson under Restaurant reviews Updated: August 1, 2014 - 1:56 PM

The burger: When chef/co-owner Leonard Anderson opened Tongue in Cheek in late June, the plan was to always include a burger on the menu. “We want to accommodate more than one demographic, he said. "If there are two people at a table of six who aren’t that adventurous, they can get a fried-egg sandwich, or a salad, or a burger. We’re selling a lot more burgers than I ever thought we would.”

I’m not surprised, as it is one fantastic burger. Turns out that the formula is a kind-of happy medium between two burgers from Anderson’s recent professional past: the fully loaded iteration he created for the former Hanger Room, and the minimalist version from his days at W.A. Frost & Co.

At its center is a lean and flavorful grass-fed beef that Anderson fortifies with shallots, garlic, herbs (dill, rosemary, thyme, parsley and chives) and a bit of ketchup. The meatloaf-inspired mix is formed into a thick patty and grilled to a robust char. On the outside, anyway; the kitchen took my medium-rare request exactly where it needed to go, leaving appropriately velvety pinkness and plenty of juice.

Anderson keeps the falderal to a minimum. The bun, a basic beauty baked by the good people at Franklin Street Bakery, gets its blackened stripes from a quick burnish on the grill. In the cheese department, Anderson uses a mild, three-month-old Cheddar (from Castle Rock Organic Farms in Osseo, Wis.) because it boasts all the right soft, meltable qualities, which explains why he also enlists it for the kid’s menu’s mac-and-cheese.

From the garden, Anderson skips over more standard-issue lettuces in favor of arugula. “It’s my favorite green, along with watercress,” he said. “I like it because it has a little more of a bite, and the texture holds up.” House-made cucumber pickles contribute a welcome vinegar tanginess, and the finishing flourish is whatever aioli is being prepared in the kitchen that day.

“Tonight it’s a chipotle aioli,” he said. “Last night it was Sriracha. Sometimes it’s roasted garlic. I have the burger a lot. I want to change it up, so I assume that others want that, too.”

Price: $11, a top-notch value. “There are places that are charging $14, $15, $16, $17 for a cheeseburger, it’s crazy,” said Anderson. Agreed.

Fries: Included, and addictive. They’re hand-cut and fried in rice oil until they’re tantalizingly crisp and deeply golden. Anderson gives them a generous toss in herbs, sea salt and black pepper, and piles a big-old handful of them on every burger plate.

Location, location, location: Tongue in Cheek is on St. Paul’s Payne Avenue for a reason. Anderson and his co-owners – wife Ashleigh Newman and their friend Ryan Huseby (a Happy Gnome and W.A. Frost & Co. vet) all live on the city’s east side. “The neighborhood is going through a renassiance, and we want to be a part of that," said Anderson.

Address book: 989 Payne Av., St. Paul, 651-888-6148. Open 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Brunch is served 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Talk to me: Do you have a favorite burger? Share the details at rick.nelson@startribune.com.

Malone and Anderson announce North Loop restaurant

Posted by: Rick Nelson under Chefs, Openings + closings, Restaurant news Updated: July 29, 2014 - 4:13 PM

Once again, the North Loop is proving its position as the Twin Cities’ hottest stretch of restaurant real estate.

This time, be on the lookout for Brut, the collaboration between chefs Jamie Malone (pictured, above) and Erik Anderson. Malone’s departure from Sea Change was announced today. “Not everything is all together or in place yet, but it’s something we have been working on for a while,” said Malone.

The couple hasn't nailed down a specific North Loop site just yet, but they’ve definitely targeted the neighborhood.

“It’s where we live, and we want to stay here,” said Malone. “We want this restaurant to be what we do when we retire [Malone is 31, Anderson is 41]. We want to be working in the community where we live, where we are a part of. We don’t want to work at a place that we’re driving to every day.”

As for the food, “We want to keep it classical, French-style cookery,” said Malone. “Right now we’re thinking a shellfish type of thing, but we’re really waiting until we find and secure the space, and that will dictate how we do things.”

Size-wise, they’re aiming at roughly 80 to 100 seats in the dining room, along with an emphasis on a roomy bar. “We want to make the bar very casual, a place you can go a few times a week and have snacks, a glass of wine or maybe a cocktail. Not so expensive that it feels like an occasion.”

The Brut name is a reference to the dry-to-the-taste sparkling wine and chosen, Malone added, “Because we both love drinking it,” she said with a laugh. “We think it goes well with a lot of the food that we want to cook. And there are lot of interesting sparkling wines from around the world, lots of things that aren’t super-accessible — at least right now — in a restaurant setting.”

(And no, it has no connection to the 1960s men’s cologne of the same name, “Although we should work that in somehow,” said Malone with a laugh. “I love that.”)

The couple met in 2008 when they were both cooking at the then-new Porter & Frye — although Malone knew of Anderson when she was a student at the Cordon Bleu and he was an instructor — and they later worked together when Anderson was running Sea Change. When Anderson left for Nashville in 2011 to open Catbird Seat, she replaced him at Sea Change. Both chefs have national profiles, most notably as Food & Wine magazine Best New Chefs, he in 2012, she in 2013.

To give diners a taste of what’s in store, the couple is planning a series of four-course pop-up dinners at the former Lynn on Bryant (5003 Bryant Av. S., Mpls.), on Aug. 8, 9, 15, 16, 29 and 30. The details — price, reservations, etc. —haven’t been hammered out yet, but Malone and Anderson will keep folks posted via their Twitter account, @brutMN.

“We want it to be a fun, summertime, kind of thing,” said Malone. “And we need something to do besides go to the dog park every day.”

More Malone news: Twin Citians Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine, producers of the Perennial Plate, are turning their attention to a remake of PBS’ “Victory Garden,” in collaboration with Edible magazines. Their first of 13 half-hour episodes is going to be filmed in Minnesota and will feature — you got it — Jamie Malone.

Meanwhile, at Sea Change, Malone is being replaced by the restaurant’s longtime sous chef (and former Alaska fisherman), Ryan Cook. 


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