Recipes

Arctic Char Challenge: Being in a landlocked state doesn't mean skipping new seafood choices

arctic char

When it comes to beef, chicken, and pork, it's fairly easy in the Twin Cities to find local vendors. Whether it's buying a quarter of a cow, fresh pork sausage, or a carton of eggs at the farmers market, or even at some local grocery stores, it's within reach with a little bit of effort. It's also pretty simple to decipher the labels and figure out if you're buying quality meat or not. Seafood, on the other hand, can be a bit trickier. 

 

Since it's difficult (um, impossible?) to find a local tuna or salmon farmer in Minnesota, instead we have to look at labels and talk directly with the source who buys the fish to ensure we are buying sustainable fish.  

 

Seafood can be considered sustainable if the species is abundant naturally or through responsible practice (farm-raised), and the harvesting methods aren't harming natural habitats with pollutants or destroying the habitats in which the species lives. 

 

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Craft Cocktails: Sampling new Minnesota micro distilleries

micro distillery cocktails

Minnesota is in the early stages of a craft liquor boom. As part of the Surly Bill of 2011 (the bill largely responsible for Minnesota's robust and ever-expanding craft beer culture), it is now easier and less expensive to obtain a micro distillery license. Over the past year or so, we've seen the first products of these new companies become available.

 

One of the newest distilleries, Du Nord Craft Spirits, began selling its flagship product, L'Etoile Vodka, this past week. Vodka, gin, and other clear spirits form the majority of items currently hitting the market, as they don't require aging; we should see more whiskeys, rums, etc. arrive over the next few years. Now is a good juncture to sample several of the high-profile liquors currently on offer, in order to highlight the impressive and exciting work being done around the state.

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Fish Tonight: Partner up with your local sustainability-minded fishmonger and make ceviche

ceviche

In terms of simple-to-prepare foods, ceviché is on the top of the list for making a great impression with little effort. The delicate balance of fish, acid, and vegetables give the illusion of complexity, when in reality, the dish takes just minutes to prepare. There are a few key components in making the dish successful. It all starts with choosing the right fish.

 

Here’s how to select the best fish:

 

Start with your fishmonger. Because they live in water, fish are more sensitive to heat, travel, and bacteria than other proteins. Your best bet is going to a source that is knowledgeable about storage, quality, and cut. Locally, we have the wonderful folks at Coastal Seafoods, located in Minneapolis and St. Paul, who are passionate about quality fish and can help you make the best choices.

 

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Hunting for Dinner: Foraging for ramps, and the best onion dip recipe ever

ramp onion dip

After a long winter like the one we just suffered through, most of us here in Minnesota are anxious to get outside and enjoy some nice weather. Last week, I had the opportunity to get out trout fishing with my 2-year-old son. We walked along a river bank south of Rochester and didn’t catch a thing but we were outside and it was wonderful. As we went along, I couldn’t help but notice all the broad green leaves sticking up out of the ground. They were instantly recognizable as ramps and my trout-fishing day turned into a ramp-picking day.

 

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Darn Good Dough: Minneapolis-based flour company makes ditching gluten easier

GF cookies

Culinary whiz Christina Vanoverbeke kicks off one of Simple, Good & Tasty's new sections, in which our writers take locally produced products on a test run. 

 

Baking is always science, but it isn’t necessarily experiment. 

 

Most baking consists of following a series of carefully tested steps to the gram. But throw a variable into the plan – say, trying to make grandma’s pound cake, but making it gluten free – and the results can quickly turn inedible. Getting the right balance of flour alternatives is tricky, can be expensive, and often doesn’t result in anything even close to what you wanted.

 

When a line of flours promises to be an easy, cup-for-cup replacement to the standard flours that so many recipes call for, I hear angels playing trumpets in the heavens. And then I assume it’s too good to be true. 

 

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Kitchen DIY: Mastering homemade yogurt

Homemade yogurt

Today’s post is kind of like a public service announcement: Make your own yogurt. Honestly, I can’t believe it took me this long to start making yogurt at home. For some reason I was under the impression that it was more complicated. I don’t know if I thought it required fancy equipment, took up too much refrigerator space, or what. Turns out it’s only two little ingredients and a very simple process.  And given the amount of yogurt we eat, this discovery ended up being a game changer.

 

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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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Kitchen DIY: Ridiculously easy homemade mustard

Homemade mustard trio

We’ve only dipped our toes into spring, but in my house, we’re embracing it with open arms. For us, the first hint of the change in season means a few things: we’re pouring gin and tonics, counting our freckles, and — above all else — starting the grill. 

 

Yes, we wait for the first warm April day to fire up the grill each year; we are not the truly rugged type who will stand outside in our boots to grill a steak during the winter (I’m looking at you, mom). And so, the next six months will see our lawn chairs pulled up alongside the grill more often than not. We’ll be happy campers sitting by as our dinner roasts over the flame: burgers, brats, a chicken cutlet or a big portabella cap, a basket full of charred veggies on the side. We’ll do this often, and with enthusiasm. 

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Make it Local: Cream of asparagus soup

Cream of asparagus soup

After our long and very cold winter, I can think of many good reasons to be excited for spring, but one in particular comes to mind: fresh asparagus is almost here. When I first see those crisp green stalks for sale at the local farmers markets, I know spring is here to stay. I have remind myself to exercise some restraint and only buy one or two bunches at a time; after such a long hiatus, I tend to forget that I can always buy more the next week. And the week after that. And the week after that. 

 

I grew up eating asparagus simply boiled, but in recent years, I've switched things up a bit. Nowadays, I lean toward roasting, grilling, sautéing, or making a rich, flavorful soup. Fortunately, it's not difficult to source as locally as possible, too.

 

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Bone Broth 101: On chicken feet, healthy bellies, and a super long simmer time

bone broth

Whether you’re testing out this Paleo business, diving into the autoimmune protocol or, like me, are trying to reduce waste and use every part of the animals that you buy, bone broth seems to be one of the buzz terms in health food right now.

 

So what is it and why should you be on the lookout to score your own chicken feet and beef knuckles as soon as possible?

 

Here’s your Bone Broth 101.

 

What is bone broth?

Simply put, it’s a mineral-rich broth made by slowly cooking a big batch of bones in water until as many of the minerals as possible have been leeched out of those bones and into the liquid. It’s different from a stock in that it’s cooked much longer and often with added parts, like chicken feet, to maximize its gelatinous, nutritious wonder. 

 

Why bother? 

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