The Latin Tongue: Restaurants in the Twin Cities

A nice spread from El Bravo

It is obvious to anyone paying attention that Americans have an obsession with Mexican food. Simply take a look at our fast food chains, food courts, strip malls and everywhere in between. You cannot say the same about any other ethnic cuisine. Sure, Italian is right up there, but besides pizza (which is mostly Americanized anyway), Italian cuisine has not quite taken over like the rampant spread of tacos, burritos and other notions borrowed from Latin culture. What is less obvious to me is, why?


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Kitchen Basics: Making homemade ghee


Welcome to your new favorite fat.


Ghee is a form of clarified butter, which is just butter without the milk/dairy solids in it. It’s those solids that cause butter to scorch at a high temperature, which is why butter is not your best bet for sautéing or frying at high temperatures. However, with the solids removed, ghee has a higher smoke point even than olive oil and coconut oil, and those high temperatures become your friend again.


And it’s not just for cooking. You can use ghee in any way you might use butter: spread on bread or toast, or melted as a topping for meats or vegetables. Other benefits of ghee:


Dairy free: With nearly all of the milk solids (lactose and casein) removed, it can be tolerated by those with lactose intolerance. It’s Paleo-friendly as well.


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Great Grains: Amaranth - The Next Big Thing?

One of the things I love about writing about food is trying new ingredients. When I run across something at the farmers’ market or in the grocery aisle I haven’t cooked before, it almost always ends up in my cart. When amaranth (pronounced ah-mah-ran-th) found its way into my kitchen last month, I was skeptical but curious about what this tiny grain had to offer.


Trying new ingredients usually ends up one of three ways in my kitchen:

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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


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. 



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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