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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Food & Wine

Lucky me, at the beginning of this month I got to go along to Minnesota Monthly's 18th annual Food & Wine Experience. I spent the weekend rubbing elbows with some pretty darn cool local companies, sampling cider to some very enthusiastic event goers, and of course taste testing everything I passed by for good measure!
The event was held at Target Field, indoors of course, us Minnesotan's are a little nuts with the weather but we're not that crazy. It featured  200 local exhibitors, more than 350 wines and over 75 specialty beers (and ciders!). Plus, all proceeds benefited our Minnesota Public Radio station! 
Our awesome setup job; looks almost as good as when I did it on day #1 :) 
What a beautiful lineup! I think I just drooled a little...
Mixology and cooking with cider cannot be beat! 
Caves of Faribault has some ahhmazing cheeses, mmmm
Luke giving the thumbs up from Stanley's Northeast Bar Room, they do a lot of events and features with Crispin and Fox Barrel. Stay tuned for my post on the Fox Barrel cider brunch they did there, oh man it was good! 
Local do gooders Finnegans, 100% of their profits from their Amber Ale's sales go back to the community. How cool is that?! 
Love Harriet Brewing's stuff! 

Bell's guys and Schell's guys!
Favorite soda. Their flavor combos are right up my alley! 

Rugby guys do such a good job sampling! 
Can't get enough of our new stadium, almost time to go enjoy it outdoors! 

We had a great time doing this event, it's always a pleasure to get to do these samplings and help people understand what a great quality product hard cider can be if it's done right. And how much fun it can be to cook with! Hoping to be a part of it again next year!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bangers & Mash

Once a year I get to tap back in to my Irish roots and set forth on an evening of what will probably summarize itself as binge drinking. Just kidding (mostly), what I really try and do is cook something that is classified as an Irish dish. I must say, to an everyday girl, a lot of the typical Irish food is not what I would call visually appealing. But to be clear, look is only half the battle in cooking, majority rule is the taste. And the taste is good, very good. 
Bangers & Mash: (Serves 4)

8 oz. Chicken stock
1 oz. Irish Whiskey (local favorite-2 Gingers
8 Links of Sausage; beef, pork, or chicken-I used Billinski's Apple & Chardonnay sausage
2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes
1 Large white onion, sliced  
1 Tbsp. olive oil 
2 Tbsp. flour 
1-2 Tbsp. dijon or stone ground mustard. You might want to adjust the quantity based 
       on the strength of your mustard and your personal taste. 
1/4 c. Heavy cream
1/4 c. Sour cream 
 3 Tbsp. butter 
 Salt and Pepper to taste 

1) Peel and chop your potatoes into 1 inch chunks. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover 
    with cold water. Bring the potatoes to a boil, add a little salt (1/2 tsp.), and let simmer for 
    20 minutes or until tender. 
2) Give your sausages a couple pricks with a fork on either side. Heat a large skillet over medium
    high heat. Add the oil to the pan, then your sausages, and cook on all sides until browned. 
    Remove the sausages and set aside. 
3) With the pan still on the heat, add in your sliced onions and sauté for about 5 minutes or until
    the onions become soft. Add the flour and stir until well incorporated.  
4) Add the chicken stock, whiskey, and cider to the pan with the onions and bring to a boil. 
    Reduce to a simmer and then add back in the sausages. Simmer for about 15-20 or until the 
    liquid has reduced into a nice gravy-like sauce.
5) When your potatoes are done; drain, return to pot and add: cream, sour cream, butter, mustard, 
    and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. 
6) Serve bangers whole or cut over a mound of potatoes and with plenty of onion gravy. Make
    sure to have your glass of cider and shot of Irish whiskey on the side. 

 If you're lucky enough to get your hands on some Stagger Lee to make this, you'd better buy whatever they have because you're going to love this cider. It's aged in Rye Whiskey barrels and it's unbelievably good. If you can't find it, feel free to substitute just about any other Crispin Cider, it should turn out delicious no matter what.  Eat up, drink up, and have a safe and happy St. Patrick's Day! Slainte! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Strawberry Basil Fizz

On Tuesday the sun broke out, the birds started singing, and it got up to 61 degrees in Minnesota. It's March 7th. There was only one logical thing to do. 
 Strawberry Basil Fizz (Makes two drinks)

6 oz. Crispin Original or Brut Cider
4 oz. Ginger Ale or Ginger Beer
2 oz. Light Rum
3 Large Strawberries, quartered lengthwise
4 Slices Lime
3 Large Basil Leaves, tore into large segments
1/2 tsp Sugar, plus more to rim glasses
 1) Pour out a bit of sugar onto a plate. Slide a lime slice around the rim of the glass and
     carefully roll the outer edge of the glass in the sugar.
 2) In a large mixing glass, muddle the strawberries, basil, lime and sugar. You don't need
     to pulverize the goods, just give them a good smash so that you release all the juices.
     If you don't have a muddler, get crafty, just don't mix metal with glass!
3) Add the rum, cider, and about 6-8 ice cubes (depends on your trays). Give in about two
    firm shakes with a shaker, careful though, it's under pressure. Don't have a shaker? Just
    pour back and forth a few times from one glass to the other.
4) Pour the mix evenly between the two glasses and top with the ginger ale/beer. Garnish
    with a lime slice wrapped around a small piece of basil and strawberry slice.

It was exactly the celebratory drink the day called for, so delicious! It's refreshingly herbal, sweet, and a little tart. Make it for your next party, you can show off your master mixing skills and impress your party people. Have fun, cheers!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pancakes With Ginger Berry Compote

"Hello day! Nice to see you, what's that? Oh, why thank you, I will pull up a chair and feast on a delicious plate filled with pancakes and berries." If only every day could start this pleasantly! 
 Oat Pancakes & Ginger Blackcurrant Mixed Berry Compote: (makes 14-15 small cakes)

For the cakes:

 1 c. cooked plain oats
 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
 1/4 c. cake flour 
 2 tsp. baking powder
 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 
 1 large egg + 1 large egg white, lightly beaten 
 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
 1/4 c. milk
 2 Tbsp. real maple syrup 

For the compote:

 3 c. mixed berries 
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch 
Make the batter: 
1) First step is to cook your oats and let them cool slightly.  (Also, preheat your oven to 200
   if you would like to keep your cakes warm while you work.)
2) Meanwhile, whisk your flours, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.
3) In another bowl; combine butter, maple syrup, milk and eggs. Carefully mix in the
    prepared oats with the wet ingredients until fully incorporated.
4) Combine the wet ingredients with the dry, being careful to not over mix the batter. Your
    batter should be slightly runny, and still a bit lumpy. If you feel like it is too thick, feel
    free to add a little bit of milk to help thin it out.
5) Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, drop a bit of butter down and spoon batter
    by about 3 Tbsp. for each cake. Cook about two minutes or until the edges become firm
    and the middle begins to have visible bubbles (see picture below), flip and cook another
    2 minutes or until golden on the other side. Keep warm in oven and continue with
    remaining batter.
 Make the compote:
1) In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and slowly bring to a boil.
2) Let the mixture simmer about ten minutes or until the liquid is reduced slightly.
3) Pour on pancakes, sprinkle with some powdered sugar, eat.

Mmmm, mmm, mmm...

These cakes were so yummy! Plus I have a bit of leftover compote that I can pour over ice cream, mix with yogurt, eat from the fridge with a spoon...I mean, freeze for another pancake day, or serve with a simple cake for a last minute dessert. So many uses, so delicious, and it's super simple to make! So get to it you kitchen wizard you; pour yourself some coffee, turn on some tunes, and make some magic happen in your kitchen this weekend.