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Kitchen DIY: Homemade harissa

homemade harissa

If you’ve spent much time reading food blogs or magazines, you probably know what harissa is, but for those of you that don’t (hi Dad!), let me fill you in.  

 

Harissa is a North African condiment made mostly from peppers and spices. And it is amazing. Like, a punch-of-flavor-to-your-tongue amazing. It’s often found on Moroccan tagines, but I’ve found so many more day-to-day uses for it. I love to slather it on sandwiches. Try it on meatloaf with a bit of mayonnaise and some hot peppers. Heavenly. It’s also fantastic on an egg sandwich where the yolk is still a bit oozy. Crunchy salads, or paired with carrots — harissa transforms an ordinary meal into something divine.

 

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Spring Ahead: Ideas for lamb and goat meat

Lamb kabobs

Lamb and goat meat aren’t as easy to find as beef and chicken or even bison, but they are worth seeking out from the growing number of local producers. There are more than 3,000 sheep farms and more than 1,500 goat farms in Minnesota now. Lamb loves flavors from around the Mediterranean, all the way from Morocco to Greece: fresh and preserved lemons, cinnamon, mint, garlic, cumin, coriander, yogurt, and dill. Use these in marinades, rubs, toppings, and sides and you almost can’t go wrong. 

 

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Vino 101: Drinking the stars

champagne

With the holiday season upon us, your mind is probably fizzy, and not just from the stress. Sparkling wine has been a celebratory drink for generations, and it is especially synonymous with Christmas and New Year’s Eve. 

 

But which one to get? A wall of sparkling wine can be overwhelming, especially to someone who only buys the stuff once a year. 

 

Well, have no fear. I’m going to give you a basic overview of the different kinds of sparkling wine and provide examples of each type. 

 

Champagne

Mention sparkling wine, and Champagne is the first thing most people think of. In order to be called Champagne, a wine has to come from a specific region (in regulatory parlance, the Champagne “AOC”) in northern France, and must be made using a very specific method.

 

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Kitchen DIY: Homemade beef broth

bone broth

Not long ago, my little boy was sick for a few days, so my usual cooking routine was interrupted. I absolutely don’t mind the interruption, and like having him home with me all day again, but I just hate it when my little ones are sick. Since he hasn’t been eating a whole lot (sore throat), I’m so thankful to have frozen broth at the ready for both the ease and the nourishment that it can give to him. I guess this is as good a time as any to post this recipe, then.

 

Making broth isn’t a new concept, but it seems as though the foodie/health world has rediscovered it lately. There’s a good reason for that. Making broth is simple and it offers so many healthy benefits that store-bought versions simply do not. They also taste so much better. Make a homemade broth and then do a taste-test with a store brand. I have. The difference is stunning.

 

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Support the right to know what’s in your food? Fight the DARK Act now!

Label GMOs

I joined Right to Know MN at the start of this year because I couldn’t imagine any sensible person arguing against the right to know what’s in our food. I joined because I care about what I feed my family, and because I believe real food is worth seeking out and paying for. I joined because the science around genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is inconclusive at best, and because the studies that tell us we can (or worse, that we should) eat them with abandon have been paid for by the companies with the most to gain. (I also joined because Tracy Singleton, owner of the Birchwood Cafe, asked me to, and she knows what she’s talking about.)

 

Here’s the official spiel:

 

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Kitchen DIY: Making the most of real vanilla

Vanilla Bean

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice following saffron. Vanilla remains pricey (around $3.50 a pod) largely due to the fact that it is very labor-intensive and challenging to grow. Originally from Mexico, the vanilla orchards had a highly symbiotic relationship with its natural pollinator, the Mellipona bee. Man-made attempts to replicate what nature was doing best by artificially pollinating the plant were largely unsuccessful until the discovery that the vanilla plant could be hand pollinated, thus enabling the plant to be grown in areas outside of Mexico.

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Gardening for Dinner: Using seasonal bounty

fried green tomatoes

I have never really considered myself a gardener. I have always had a plant or two growing in a pot or hanging basket and on some rare occasions, actually got something to eat from them. Then, four years ago, my wife and I bought a house and discussed putting in a raised bed for a small garden. That first bed was five feet by 10 feet and served as our very first garden. 

 

We didn’t get a whole lot out of that little bed, I think because we overplanted the small area. I wanted a large variety of vegetables and that didn’t work out so well. So, the following year, I added five more boxes and three half-barrel planters so that I could get a larger variety. 

 

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Grilled Salad: Welcome to your new obsession

grilled salad

I still remember the first time I decided to grill salad. Still in culinary school and just learning about layering flavors, my class was focusing on a duck confit salad, and that dish seemed very heavy for traditional greens. Yet I didn't want to go down the familiar path of a frisee salad. So, I wondered: what if I grilled some romaine? My thought was that the smoky, charred flavor would really complement the duck but not overpower it. Using duck fat and sherry vinaigrette as dressing, I gave it a shot, and it turned out to be a huge hit. I've been grilling salad ever since.

 

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