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.
Chilled Cream of Tomato Soup
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
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.
Last Saturday morning, during a ferocious downpour, I ran – OK, it was more like a brisk walk, but still – through the Fulton Farmers Market, where I was stopped short by the sight of a new stand.
New to me, anyway. The market, too; the Rise Bagel Co. was in the middle of its second appearance. Sisters/co-owners Kate and Jen Lloyd (they call themselves “bread heads”) were busy hawking a half-dozen varieties of bagels, and, seriously, wow.
The Lloyds' handiwork is what bagel fanatics so rarely encounter in the Twin Cities. They have the look down cold: beautifully golden rounds indented with navel-like centers. Even more impressive is the texture, a muscular heft and chew (a characteristic that a bagel-loving pal of mine solemnly refers to as “yank”) that the bagel chains can't seem to touch.
All the standards are present and accounted for, starting with a straight-up plain bagel. Some are topped with a coarse salt, others with sesame seeds, Asiago cheese or poppy seeds. Naturally, there's an "everything" version, and a cinnamon-sugar variation is a first step into a planned cinnamon-raisin entry. I'm still kicking myself for not buying the popular rosemary-olive oil bagel, but that gives me a reason to return.
The basic building block is an organic, high-gluten flour, and the recipe was developed over a year in the cramped kitchen of Jen's Loring Park condominium. Now that they're producing in retail-size quantities, the sisters have moved their boiling and baking operations into larger, more efficient quarters in a south Minneapolis commercial kitchen.
At the market, the format is simplicity itself, just bagels, a knife and cream cheese or peanut butter. The tangy, luscious cream cheese hails from Organic Valley, and it's applied with a generous hand.
There's a handful of cream cheese blends, including a lively, dill- and garlic-flecked veggie mix that's heavy on the cucumber. Still, the most popular combination is total bagel Puritanism: Plain bagel, with plain cream cheese.
"We were surprised by that, but then again, maybe not," said Kate. "After all, we’re in the Midwest.”
The sisters cater to peanut butter lovers with a trio of flavors -- Minnesota-sourced honey, cinnamon-raisin and semi-sweet chocolate -- from Buddy's, a partnership born, in part, from serendipity; Buddy's owner Andrew Kincheloe shares commercial kitchen space with the Lloyds, and the three entrepreneurs made a connection as immediate as, well, bagels and peanut butter.
Prices are a fairly competitive $1.50 per bagel, with an additional $1.50 for cream cheese or peanut butter. I highly recommend buying a bag ($8.50/half dozen, $16.50/dozen) and clearing room in your freezer.
Here’s why: The Sisters Lloyd maintain a somewhat irregular schedule. They're wisely taking a cautious approach to their startup, sticking with a single market (Fulton) and introducing themselves with just two appearances in the past six weeks.
Don't go running to Fulton this weekend with bagels on the brain, because the next Rise Bagel Co. outing is set for July 12. That’s a long time to wait for bagels this good, although there's good news around the corner: Starting in July, the plan is to adapt a three-Saturdays-a-month schedule, and maintain that pace through October.
Their Lloyds' recipe developed over the course of bagel-binging research junkets to New York City, Montreal and San Francisco, culminating in a two-day tutorial at Beauty's Bagel Shop in Oakland. "We found them online, and we discovered that they were on the same journey that we're on," said Kate. "We worked the 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift, and out of that experience we found out what it would entail to make bagels non-stop."
Is there a permanent bagel shop on the horizon? “Naturally, people are asking us that question,” said Kate. “We’re having a lot of fun, but we both have full-time jobs [Kate works in marketing and public relations for Room & Board, Jen is product development and sourcing for Nordic Ware]. We’re taking it day by day, and seeing what the response is. Maybe we’ll consider it. Who knows?”
Should they go that route, it's hopefully not too much to ask that it land within walking distance of my house or my office. As for the Rise name, it grew out of a brainstorming session over beer at Muddy Waters, and it is imbued with multiple meanings, one of which is the manner in which bagels float to the top during the boiling process.
“And you’ve got to rise out of bed to eat a bagel,” said Kate. Bagel-makers rise even earlier. “Yeah, that’s another story,” she said with a laugh. “We’re not getting a lot of sleep, but that’s OK.”
The 2013 season is coming to a close at most Twin Cities metro area farmers markets.
The St. Paul Farmers Market in Lowertown continues Saturdays through Nov. 23 and Sundays through Nov. 17. The market's winter market schedule begins Dec. 7 and runs Saturdays (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) through April 19, 2014.
The Minneapolis Farmers Market on the western edge of downtown is open daily through mid-November, and continues to sell Christmas trees until Dec. 24. The market's Nicollet Mall outpost runs Thursdays through mid-November.
Here are the closing dates of two dozen other markets.
Fulton Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 26
Kingfield Farmers Market: Sunday, Oct. 27
Linden Hills Farmers Market: Sunday, Oct. 27
Midtown Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 26 (Tuesday market continues through Oct. 29)
Mill City Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 26
Northeast Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 19
St. Paul Farmers Market -- Seventh Place: Tuesday, Oct. 15 (Thursday market continues through Oct. 17)
St. Paul Farmers Market -- St. Thomas More: Friday, Oct. 25
Apple Valley Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 26
Bloomington Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 12
Burnsville Farmers Market -- Mary, Mother of the Church: Thursday, Oct. 31
Burnsville Farmers Market -- Burnsville Parkway: Saturday, Oct. 26
Lakeville Farmers Market: Wednesday, Oct. 30
Prior Lake Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 26
Savage Farmers Market: Sunday, Oct. 27
Andover Farmers Market: Tuesday, Oct. 29
Maple Grove Farmers Market: Thursday, Oct. 24
Maplewood Farmers Market: Wednesday, Oct. 30
Roseville Farmers Market: Tuesday, Oct. 29
West St. Paul Farmers Market: Friday, Oct. 25
White Bear Lake Farmers Market: Friday, Oct. 25
Woodbury Farmers Market: Sunday, Oct. 27
Excelsior Farmers Market: Thursday, Oct. 31
Hopkins Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 26
Here's what's going on, food- and drink-wise, in the Twin Cities this weekend:
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY: Seventeen Minnesota and Wisconsin cheesemakers -- including Alemar Cheese Co., Shepherd's Way Farms, Singing Hills Goat Dairy and Stickney Hill Dairy -- are the main attraction at the Minnesota Cheese Festival, along with artisan food producers, a handful of food trucks (Foxy Falafel, the Moral Omnivore) and wine and beer pairings. Workshops and demonstrations, too, all held at the International Bazaar at the Minnesota State Fair in Falcon Heights. Tickets $15 ($10 children) or $65 for a VIP pass, and must be purchased in advance; no at-the-door sales.
SATURDAY: The brewers at Summit Brewing Co. will be on hand at Brit's Pub & Eating Establishment (outdoors, on the restaurant's rooftop veranda) in Minneapolis, tapping 10 of their latest brews. Brewers are available from noon to 3 p.m., taps run from noon to 4 p.m.
SATURDAY: Drop in on the 10th-annual Wild Rice Festival at the Harriet Alexander Nature Center in Roseville. The day begins with a wild rice pancake breakfast (served with wild rice sausages and locally produced maple syrup), and includes games, storytelling, crafts, demonstrations and more, all focused on local Native American cultures. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
SATURDAY: Meet local author Anne Gillespie ("Ingrebretsen's Saga") at a meet-and-greet (samples, book signings) at the Midtown Farmers Market in Minneapolis.
SATURDAY: Chef Sameh Wadi of Saffron Restaurant & Lounge and World Street Kitchen in Minneapolis will take to the podium at the Minneapolis Farmers Market at 10:30 a.m. (free). Also at the market: be sure to pick up your free reusable shopping bag, starting at 8 a.m.
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY: Meet influential cookbook author Deborah Madison ("Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone," "Local Flavors," "The Greens Cookbook") and hear her talk about her latest book, "Vegetable Literacy" at two events: On Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis, and on Sunday at 4 p.m. at SubText Bookstore in St. Paul. Free.
When vegetarian cookbook powerhouse Deborah Madison (pictured, above) dropped into town recently, signing books at the Mill City Farmers Market, I picked up a copy of her "Local Flavors" for my sister Linda, a dedicated CSA and farmers market cook.
It's a good thing that I already owned a copy, otherwise Linda probably would have never seen hers. That's because this is one terrific guide to imaginative, flavorful and hyper-seasonal cooking. It was also ahead of its time. When the book came out in 2002, there were few farmers market-inspired cookbooks; now the shelves are flooded with them, but none have the Madison touch (Find a Q& A with Madison here, from the Star Tribune's archives).
A case in point? This easy-to-prepare recipe for eggplant-bell pepper-olive spaghetti.
ROBUST END-OF-THE SUMMER SPAGHETTI
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: From "Local Flavors" by Deborah Madison. "Giving the last of the summer vegetables a lengthy time on the stove turns them into a robust and deep-flavored sauce, hearty enough for the beginning of fall," writes Madison.
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. eggplant, peeled and sliced a scant 1/2-inch thick
2 red or yellow bell peppers, or one of each, halved lengthwise and seeded
1/4 c. olive oil, plus extra for the pan
1 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 anchovies, chopped
1/3 c. chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 lbs. ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (reserving juices)
1/4 c. Kalamata or Gaeta olives, pitted and chopped
3 tbsp. capers, rinsed
1 tbsp. dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. spaghetti
1 c. grated pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat broiler. Brush a sheet pan lightly with olive oil, arrange eggplant on it and brush tops with more oil. Broil on both sides until browned. Remove and cut eggplant into wide strips. Lightly oil peppers, then broil, skin-side up, until blistered. Remove from oven, stack them on top of one another and allow them to steam for 15 minutes, then peel and dice into smal squares.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, peppers, garlic, anchovies and parsley and saute until onion and peppers are softened, about 5 minutes. Lower heat and add eggplant, tomatoes, olives, capers, oregano and 1/2 cup water (or juice from tomatoes). Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta, following directions on package, then drain. Transfer pasta to a large heated bowl, spoon sauce over pasta and top with cheese and parsley. Toss and serve.
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