Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ethnic Market Tour and Cooking Demonstration

I LOVE that there are so many cool opportunities to experience stuff here in the Twin Cities!!!  Yesterday, Robin, Davey, Dan and Sherry, and Duane and I went on the "Ethnic Market Tour and Cooking Demonstration" offered by THE KITCHEN WINDOW in Uptown.

We met at Robin and Dave's, then headed to Uptown as a group. We were WAAAAAAY early, so had a chance to have a cup of coffee, and chat for awhile before boarding the bus to head to our first destination...Holy Land Bakery & Deli.

Robin practicing restraining Davey from spending money...Duane practicing restraining me from spending money...Sherry practicing restaining Dan from spending money (it didn't work...)!!!

We got to sample some AWESOME middle eastern classics (hummus and pita, falafel, fig pastries), and I went CRAZY buying stuff I'm not sure I'll ever use (I get "caught in the moment" like that sometimes...!). 

I found fava beans in a spicy tomato sauce...I NEEDED THAT!  I found nuts soaked in honey...I NEEDED THAT!  I found a sheet of dried apricot paste...I NEEDED THAT TOO!!!!  I bought olive tepanade, harissa paste, Red Rooster sauce, and a BUNCH of other stuff...I NEEDED THEM TOO!!!!!

Kirsten, from our tour group (and who knew a TON about middle eastern food!), and Davey, Duane, and me sampling the falafel!!!!

After Holy Land, we headed to St. Paul to look around El Burrito Mercado, a Hispanic market:

I found all SORTS of fabulous stuff here...crema, spices to sprinkle on fruit, lime and pineapple empanadas, sour orange, and AWESOME chicken and chipotle bouillon cubes.  The "alley corn" behind the market was AMAZING, as well!!!!!!!!

Our next stop was Ingebretsen's Scandinavian Gifts.  I have to admit that I didn't buy ANYTHING here, but it was a GREAT shop with some LOVELY Scandinavian foods (lefse and lutefisk, notwithstanding...ish!).  They DID have a lovely Swedish meatball mix that I will probably have to go back and try.  The butcher said that they sell a THOUSAND POUNDS of it a day during the Christmas holidays, so it MUST be good!

I'll pass on the smoked salmon...thanks...!

I was VERY tempted to buy a can of "fish balls" (meatballs made of cod) to put on my kitchen counter to FREAK everyone out, but decided it was just TOO GROSS to have anywhere NEAR my house...!!!!  Ditto the tube of "fish roe"...EEEK!!!

After Ingebretsen's, we headed to our final stop in Minneapolis, Bill's Imported Foods.  Bill's is another middle eastern market.  They had a few things that we didn't see at Holy Land, but by this time, I was COMPLETELY exhausted, so only found a FEW things that I couldn't live without...!!!

We then got back on the bus, and headed back to THE KITCHEN WINDOW for a LOVELY taco dinner...beef and chicken tacos...made with ingredients from our stops during the day.

I bought all SORTS of interesting ingredients, and can't wait to figure out what to do with them!  I may mix "ethnicities"...combining the crema from the Mexican market with the zahtar from Holy Land to marinate chicken breasts, or using the spicy fava beans in my homemade chili recipe...SUCH possibilities!!!!

Here are some photos of my purchases...

Here's hoping YOU were able to experience some diversity and "other cultures" recently too!!!!! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Willow River State Park

Duane and I got the Riviera out of storage and drove to Hudson, Wisconsin for lunch at one of our favorite cafes....Urban Olive & Vine.  I had a LOVELY basil chicken flatbread sandwich, and Duane had the Thai Peanut (without the peanut and a substitution of the tomato viniagrette).  A TRULY lovely little spot at which to relax and enjoy DELIGHTFUL food!

After lunch, we headed to Willow River State Park.  We had NO idea such a great place was so close to home!  One of Duane's co-workers recommended it, and I'm glad she was cool.  Camping, a lake, a dam, and a really cool waterfall (that you have to hike, like, 28 miles to get to, but the path is well graded, and it's TOTALLY worth the effort!). 

Here are some shots from the day...

It was a LOVELY last day of "summer vacation" before it all begins again tomorrow!

Here's hoping YOU were able to do something to help you relax, and to help you NOT think about whatever DOOM is crashing down upon you...!!!!! 

Friday, September 2, 2011


Tonight we tried a pizza crust recipe that I saw on "Ciao Italia" on PBS, and it was REALLY good!!!  I actually had to order Pizza Crust Yeast on e-bay (since the Twin Cities, seemingly, doesn't even KNOW WHAT IT IS), but it was worth the rising time needed at all...just add and bake...!!!!

Here's the recipe.  SOOOOOOO good...

1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. Fleischmann's Pizza Crust Yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (115 to 120 degrees)
1 T. honey
1 T. olive oil

Place pizza stone on the bottom rack of oven.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Combine the 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, salt and yeast in a bowl.  Add the water, honey and olive oil.  Combine to make a smooth ball of dough. 

Place the 2 cups unbleached flour in a large bowl.  Add the dough mixture to the flour.  Mix well.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead it with your hands for a couple of minutes.  Use a knife to divide the dough in half.  Use ONE HALF of the dough recipe for each pizza (you can refrigerate or freeze the other half of the dough for later use).

Press one half of the dough to desired thickness with your hands.

Top pizza with your favorite toppings (we used tomato sauce, Roma tomatoes, fresh basil, green olives, and mozzarella cheese).

Just before putting the pizza into the oven to bake, reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Bake pizza for 12 to 15 minutes.

For more fabulous recipes from "Ciao Italia", visit their site at:

Here's hoping YOU were able to create something amazing for dinner recently too!!!!