Gravlax

GravlaxHomeland
Not too long ago I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown that was filmed in Copenhagen and I found myself glued to the seat fascinated by what I was watching on the screen. My mother’s side of the family is Danish — and I don’t mean mostly Danish with a little bit of “other” thrown in. I mean, “one hundred percent my ancestors wore breastplates and rode in boats to raid your shores” Danish.

Copenhagen, and Denmark in general, have always been on my bucket list of places to visit, mainly because I want to know more about where my family is from. It never occurred to me to go because of the food. But, as I sat there watching this show, it was a revelation. Because, more often than not, when I think of Scandinavian food I am transported back to the nights my grandmother would make red cabbage. (The smell when we entered the house was horrendous. But, Gam and Mom loved it.) Other times it makes me think of the herring in cream sauce we sell here at the store. Apparently, it’s delicious. I…just…can’t…even. I’ll sell it but I don’t have to eat it.

What I was seeing on the tv screen, however, was something completely different. And, it made me hungry. To be fair, Smørrebrød is not new and, in fact, it makes a perfect lunch. But, watching the chef create classic Scandinavian dishes in a way that made the old ways new again was energizing. His emphasis on ingredients that could be grown and used sustainably was icing on the cake. Now, he did use moss that he gathered off the trees in his backyard.(Foraging is big in Denmark.) Not sure I’m ready to go there yet. But, it did get me fired up about my garden again.

If you look really closely, on the menus of the nicer restaurants around us you will notice more and more chefs creating dishes with Scandinavian influences. (Akvavit comes to mind.) I started noticing it before my virtual trip to Copenhagen and even more so since. If those sixty minutes have done anything they have made me seek those places and recipes out.

In the meantime, as I thumb through some recent cookbook purchases, I am content to make myself a little bit of Smørrebrød for snacking. And, if it includes a little homemade Gravlax, so much the better….

Gravlax
Adapted from The Spruce
Gravlax is salmon that has been cold-cured with sugar, salt, and fresh dill. Modern gravlax has a fresh, delicate flavor and is delicious served either as an elegant appetizer or as a topping for smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches). Read more…

Apricot Hamantaschen

Apricot HamantaschenHamantaschen Noshin’
I don’t think it’s any great revelation to say that food often plays a starring role in holidays. This is especially true when one is referring to the Jewish holiday of Purim, which starts today.

Purim has a number of customs and one of them is handing out gifts of triangle-shaped filled cookies called Hamantaschen. I did not grow up in a Jewish household but my husband did. And, I can honestly say that any custom that encourages the sharing of cookies is good with me.

The only constant with Hamantaschen is their shape. Even the spelling varies. The filling is as wide-ranging as the people who make them. Traditional filling is made with prunes and walnuts. But, you can also find poppy seed, apricot (my favorite), honey pecan, chocolate chip, cherry…even Nutella. Whatever you dream up to fill the cookies works.

Same goes for the dough. You can use a yeast dough, rugalach dough, or (my personal preference) a butter cookie dough. As long as you get that triangle shape you’re good to go.

Of course, if you don’t want the hassle of making them yourself, we’ve got a number of varieties available from Grand Bakery ready for you to get your Hamantaschen Nosh on…

This recipe for Apricot Hamantaschen is a combination of a one I found on King Arthur’s website and others I have pulled from some of my favorite Jewish cooking books. Feel free to play with it a bit—or use your own butter cookie dough recipe. You can also use apricot preserves instead of the filling below for faster oven to mouth time…

Apricot Hamantaschen
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

Read more…

Baked Rhubarb with Earl Grey Tea, Cardamom, and Orange Zest

Baked Rhubarb with Earl Grey Tea, Cardamom, and Orange Zest

Tea with ‘barb
About two weeks ago, I was walking through our produce department and noticed that the first bright red stalks of rhubarb were piled on the shelf. Naturally, I had to buy some—though I had no idea what I was going to do with it when I got it home. This type of thing happens a lot, usually when I am driving through the valley and see a farm stand. I am a visual shopper.

Like most people, when I think rhubarb I think pie. But, I don’t always have the time, or energy, to make a pie crust. Then I go the easy route and make it into a crisp ‘cause I always have oatmeal. And, let’s face it, you could put that topping on anything and make it taste good. It should come as no surprise that I ended up doing just that…and it was fantastic.

At least the few bites I got were fantastic. My family of vultures ate it all before I had a chance to get my fill.

Because of this, I have been on the lookout for something different to do with the rhubarb we have downstairs in the shop. When I came across this recipe for Baked Rhubarb, I was fascinated. Earl Grey is my tea of choice. I drink it all day, every day. So, I am very familiar with its citrusy flavor. And, I get why this recipe would work, rhubarb and citrus complement each other nicely.

So this experiment will be happening this week and I will be hiding my own stash in the fridge. I am looking forward to finding out what it will taste like when it is mixed in with some yogurt…when no one is looking!

Baked Rhubarb with Earl Grey Tea, Cardamom, and Orange Zest
Adapted from Food 52 Read more…

Korean Style Fried Chicken

Korean Style Fried Chicken

Olympic Fusion Food
The Olympics start this week. Opening ceremonies are Friday night but there are some events that have already started a competition. If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time you will know how much I love the Olympics. Especially the Winter Olympics.

Why do I love the Winter Olympics? Because you get to watch sports that at any other time you would never watch. I’m not saying that I am setting my alarm so that I can sit down and watch a curling match but I AM interested in the biathlon and speed skating. Sure figure skating is cool and downhill skiing is always exciting, but ever since Eddie The Eagle, I am a fool for the ski jumping competition.

The best part of watching the Olympics is that I know for a couple of hours each night, my entire family will be in the same room watching the same thing. That may not sound like a big deal but getting everyone in the same place doing something together (and not on their phones) is a rare thing. So, since I will have their undivided attention, I plan to make the appropriate fare for watching the competition.

For watching the Opening Ceremonies It makes sense to make something with a Korean flavor. Since it is Friday night, there won’t be any time for an elaborate dinner but a little pre-made Kim Chi from our Produce department is a good start. Of course, you could always go the bulgogi route because its quick, easy and tasty but I want to do something a little different.

While searching for recipes I found this one which is perfect. It’s a nod to the host country but still allows for a little national pride ‘cause what’s more American than fried chicken? I like the boneless skinless thighs because they cook quickly but you could easily do this with whole chicken legs or even wings. Traditional recipes call for the chicken to be fried twice but I’m not that patient….

Korean Style Fried Chicken
Adapted from NY Times Cooking recipe by Julia Moskin

Fried Chicken, or chicin, became popular in Korea because of American cultural influence around the Korean War. In South Korea, fried chicken is consumed as a meal, an appetizer, or as an after-meal snack.
Read more…

Amy’s Juicy Lucy Burgers for the Superbowl

Amy's Juicy Lucy BurgersFor Better or Worse…or Football
My husband is a Patriots fan. Sigh. A real one, not part of the bandwagon folks who jumped on at the beginning of what has been there dynastic dominance. Born in Rhode Island, he has been a fan since birth. And, he prefers the old minuteman logo to the current slick modern version. To be fair, he’s pretty low-key in his fandom. Living in an area heavily populated with Raiders fans will do that. But still…the Patriots? Anyone but those guys.

My husband is not low key at home. The Patriots could be down 21 points but I get the constant update as to when Tom Brady will kick it in gear and start the comeback.

As you may have guessed, I am not a fan of the Patriots. In the beginning of our relationship, I was, frankly, indifferent. I even wore the Patriots shirt my beloved gave me as a show of support. (We were newly married then.) As the Patriots’ continued, I got tired of seeing the same faces and jerseys every year. Give someone else a chance, right? This year is no different. I was Jacksonville’s biggest fan in the conference championship. (They had it! The game was in the palm of their hands!) Alas, it was not to be. So now I am the world’s biggest Eagles fan. Fly Eagles Fly!

Usually, I try to do appropriate regional foods for the Super Bowl depending on who is playing, ‘cause I’m just weird that way. Not gonna lie though, as much as I love New England Clam Chowder, this year I just can’t seem to muster the energy and make myself do it. While I am not entirely opposed to making cheesesteaks (because who doesn’t like cheesesteaks?) there is a good chance that we will be at a volleyball tournament and have to DVR the Super Bowl. This means whatever we have will need to be quick or made ahead. And, we won’t be able to look at our phones ‘cause we don’t want to ruin it.

So what’s a girl to do? The answer is a family favorite that happens to be hugely popular in Minnesota, which satisfies my weird regional Super Bowl food requirement. (Also, it’s meat and cheese so it’s kinda like a cheesesteak, maybe?).

I give you Amy’s Juicy Lucy Burgers. I love these as do my boys. There are really easy to slap together ahead of time. Use whatever cheese you prefer but I will say that good old American “cheese” really is the best choice for authentic flavor. You could also do them as sliders if you are looking for more of a bite-sized snack.

Happy Super Bowl watching and eating! May you enjoy the wacky commercials and not have the urge to strangle your favorite Patriots fan even though he is the love of your life….

Amy’s Juicy Lucy Burger
Serves 4 Read more…