'Nduja and rapini quiche at Kieran's Kitchen Northeast
Let's be honest: quiche can be snooze.
Not this one, and not just because it has such an appealing back story. Food Building owner Kieran Folliard approached Minnesota superchef Tim McKee (of La Belle Vie and Octo Fishbar fame) with a proposal.
"Tim has always been a terrific fan of what we do at the building, and I asked him if he would ever do us the favor of creating recipes that would utilize products made in the building," he said, referring to the artisanal output at Red Table Meat Co., Baker's Field Flour & Bread and Alemar Cheese Co. "Tim said, 'I have a better idea.' "
McKee tapped a bunch of friends across the Twin Cities culinary spectrum, and now Kieran's Kitchen Northeast is offering monthly assemble-at-home kits created by that talent pool. So far there have been contributions from Yia Vang (Union Hmong Kitchen) and Daniel del Prado (Martina, Colita, Josefina), as well as a few from McKee.
Including this quiche ($32), which showcases luscious Camembert from Alemar and a gloriously tender and flaky pie shell from Baker's Field. Red Table provides the key ingredient: a smoky, chile-fueled 'nduja. Paired with nicely bitter rapini, the spreadable cured salami lends a delightful air of feisty unpredictability to quiche.
In terms of assembly, the quiche was a snap, coming together in less than 5 minutes and baking for another 25. I was tempted to pass it off as my own, but who am I kidding? Everyone I know knows that my feeble attempts at pie crust never come close to this.
Turns out, McKee approached 19 chefs, asking if they wanted to participate in the project.
"And all nineteen said, 'Yes,' " said Folliard. "That really warmed my heart. That's a measure of Tim's reputation, and it's also a recognition of the work that the guys here are doing in artisan food production. I'm excited to see the other ones as they come down the line." Me, too. (Rick Nelson)
117 14th Av. NE., Mpls., 612-354-5093, kieranskitchen.com. Open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tues.-Fri., 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
Tostadas from Full Belly, Happy Heart
Sometimes the best food is found by happy accident. We were on the hunt for a specific food truck on a chilly afternoon, but after those plans were foiled we eventually stumbled upon Full Belly, Happy Heart at Forgotten Star Brewery in Fridley. Clearly, it was meant to be.
Juan and Marissa Lozano's food truck serves a small but tasty menu of Latin fusion food, and the tostadas ($12) are the main attraction. My eyes went right to the Peruvian tostada — ancho-marinated chicken with an olive and mashed potato base, topped with avocado and aji verde sauce (a spicy Peruvian green sauce). I loved the idea of potatoes on a tostada and wasn't disappointed. The potato base was filling and flavorful, the chicken juicy and tender, and the avocados balanced out the heat of the sauce. The tostada stayed strong and crisp under the heavy fillings, making each bite a textured-filled delight. The other two tostada offerings — chipotle and jerk/Caribbean — were equally tasty. All tostadas are served with Mexican rice, definitely making this a meal, not a snack. Washing it all down with a craft beer? Perfection.
Our one regret: Not getting there earlier. Nothing says "fear of missing out" like seeing something erased on a food truck menu board.
If the name Full Belly, Happy Heart sounds familiar, it might be. The Lozanos did a stint at Eat Street, the rotating food truck pop-up at the Eagan Lunds & Byerlys, over the winter. Now you can catch them around town at local breweries. (Nicole Hvidsten)
Chicken sandwich from Olivia's Organic Cafe
If a string of gray days leaves you in the need of a pick-me-up, head to this charming cafe. The big windows and cheery interior will lift your spirits before you even have a chance to read the menu.
The cafe, which is entirely gluten- and dairy-free, has robust, but not overwhelming, breakfast and lunch offerings.
The crispy chicken sandwich ($21) got my attention. Organic chicken is coated in a potato-chip batter before taking a dip in the fryer, and then served on a slightly sweet housemade brioche bun with tomato, onion and lettuce. The sandwich was everything a good chicken sandwich should be: crispy yet tender with a bun that holds up to the challenge. Sides include chips or tossed greens, with upgrades to breakfast potatoes ($2) or chicken soup ($4) available.
It didn't dawn on me until I was nearly done that the chicken would be equally tasty cut up and tossed with the greens and honey mustard sauce. Next time.
Even if you go for a meal, but the bakery case will appeal to your sweet side. A seasonal fruit tart was available on my visit — if you see it, get it — but judging from the wide-eyed kids in the cafe, the ice cream was a popular treat, too. (N.H.)
11849 Millpond Av., Burnsville, 952-346-8800, oliviasorganiccafe.com. Open Wed.-Sun., 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Online ordering available.
The Pepe pastrami, the Brothers Deli
During a recent trip to the downtown Star Tribune headquarters, I hit the skyways to survey the lunch scene. While it's far from the bustling scene it was early last year, there are still some bright spots. Like the Brothers Deli.
On another day the long list of sandwiches and salads at the New York-style deli might have left me indecisive. But I was on a pastrami mission. When in Rome, right?
The deli is known for its pastrami (and corned beef and brisket) for a reason. Their take-it-slow process of curing the meat, and then adding its own seasoning during steaming, makes a delicious melt-in-your-mouth sandwich. The Pepe ($7.99) adds a little heat by topping the pastrami with melted pepper jack cheese and sandwiching it all between two slices of grilled rye. It was exactly the comfort food I needed. (Speaking of comfort, if you're a popover fan, theirs are first-rate. And huge.)
Owned by the Burstein family, Brothers has been serving Minneapolis in some form for more than 70 years. Jeff Burstein, grandson of the founder, has held the Brothers reins since 1993. The popular deli — there were several tables occupied — has been in its current location since 2000.
But a public service announcement: If you have a favorite lunch spot, especially downtown, do us all a favor and pay them a visit. (N.H.)
50 S. 6th St., Minneapolis, 612-341-8007, thebrothersdeli.com. Open Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-2 p.m., with dine-in available 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Teriyaki salmon bowl at Heather's
I'm slightly embarrassed to admit the number of times I've ordered this beauty ($20) over the past few months. But a fixation is a fixation, and, as it turns out, I'm not alone. What started as a daily special was such a hit that owner Heather Asbury and her crew gave it a permanent and well-deserved berth on the menu.
Appearances might suggest a nothing-fancy demeanor, but this dish — which holds up very well as takeout — certainly perks up a run-of-the-mill weeknight. One reason to love? The jasmine rice is cooked in coconut milk and coconut flakes, an alchemy that results in a bright, refreshing flavor.
All other components are wisely chosen and careful handled. The thickly cut slab of salmon has a crispy sear that yields to a plush, velvety interior (the portion is so abundant that the invariable leftovers perk up my next-day scrambled eggs), a teriyaki glaze inserts another welcome flavor dimension and a just-right mix of vegetables — edamame, red peppers, broccoli, pickled onions — are a welcome pile-on of color and texture. Creamy avocado is the crowning touch.
This rice bowl has become such a habit that I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever stray and explore other parts of the menu. Well, beyond pastry chef Annamarie Rigelman's first-rate baked goods (oh, those chocolate chip cookies!), anyway. I've covered every inch of that territory. (R.N.)
5201 Chicago Av. S., Mpls., 612-445-8822, heathersmpls.com. Open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Wed., 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun.