sunday night: date night at cafe lurcat

about a year and a half ago, during restaurant week, the mister and i visited cafe lurcat for the first time and were so impressed. maybe i need to pay more attention, but there is not enough buzz about this place, in my opinion. there is a lot of asian fusion happening on the menu, which i am normally not a big fan of, but it’s done really well in this case and we’ve loved everything we’ve eaten here. their apple, manchege, chive salad is one of my absolute favorite things.

(ginger scallion fried rice with a gorgeous egg yolk)

sunday night is date night at participating d’amico restaurants around the twin cities. for $50 (per couple, not per person!), you each get 3 courses and a bottle of wine or bubbles to share. this is an amazing deal, folks. and last night at lurcat, we had amazing food and service. the mister and i definitely left full and extremely happy. can’t wait to check out date night at the other d’amico restaurants around town (masa is next on the list probably).


trying to conjure up spring. with blackberries & lemon.

last saturday the mister and i went to caribe bistro for brunch. i had the tortilla espanola – a fluffy omelette with potatoes, chorizo and lots of spices. oh, and bottomless mimosas for $7! we plan to go back and check out dinner sometime. afterward, we went around the corner to st. paul classic cookie – both of us wanted muffins to snack on later, but when we got there, the woman in front of us in line bought two dozen muffins, all they had left, SO, no muffins for us.

however, the craving did not go away – so here we are, with muffins. blackberry lemon muffins with a lemon glaze to be exact. i used meyer lemons because i love their warm, almost orangey color, but i bet any kind of lemons would work. also, i like very very very berry muffins. these are more berry carrying vessels than muffins with a few pieces of fruit in them, so if you’d rather have more of the cakey part, feel free to cut back on the berries in the recipe too.

*makes about 16 small muffins*
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup canola oil
zest and juice from 2 (meyer) lemons
2 large eggs
1 cup milk (i use skim)
12 oz blackberries

1 cup powdered sugar
3 T of (meyer) lemon juice
zest from 1 (meyer) lemon

preheat oven to 400

in a mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. in a separate bowl whisk together oil, zest, lemon juice, eggs and milk. add wet ingredients into the flour mixture, stir to combine. fold in blackberries.

butter the muffin pan or line with paper liners. fill each cup to the top. try to get close to an even number of berries for each muffin.

bake for 22 minutes. prepare glaze in the meantime.

these muffins will be full of juicy berries, so let them cool in the pan for 15 minutes or so before taking them out to finish cooling on a rack. drizzle a big spoonful of glaze over the top and eat with gusto!

they’ll make you totally forget about the fresh 6 inches of snow we have outside!

mama’s curry (as close as i can get)

have you ever had vietnamese curry? it’s very similar to thai massaman curry – very hearty and stew-like. i recently had some dental work done and need to eat soft food, so we’ve been eating it with rice this week, but normally this thick, rich curry would get scooped up with pieces of crusty baguette torn from the loaf (baked fresh by the mister!).

if anyone asked, i would definitely say this is one of the best things i make. it seriously took me about year and a half to perfect this recipe, meaning, to get as close to my mom’s curry as possible. and can i you tell you a secret? i use chef sameh wadi’s (of saffron) dry harissa from his line of spices, spice trail and it’s a revelation in curry, truly. the spices add the absolute right amount of heat 🙂

i normally make this with chicken, but this time i had shrimp handy, so used that instead. YUM. love seafood. but i’m going to give you the recipe with chicken – it’s a good staple.

1 pkg chicken thighs or breasts
8-10 red potatoes (depending on size), peeled and cut into chunks – you can use a combo of red and sweet potatoes too!
5-6 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
1 small white onion, sliced or chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 15oz can coconut milk
2-3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 T fish sauce (i use three crabs brand)
pinch of sugar
drizzle of oil

dry rub:
1/4 cup curry powder
1 T dry harissa
fresh ground pepper/salt

coat chicken in the mixed spices, cover and refridgerate for an hour. i sometimes do it the night before, whenever you remember should be fine.

heat a little bit of oil in medium pot, add onions, garlic and chicken. sear chicken on all sides. remove chicken from pot and set aside.

scoop the coconut cream into the pot (just the cream, not the juice) and simmer for 5 minutes (i stand over the stove with my head in the pot for this step – it smells ridiculously good, the coconut cream). throw the chicken back in with the bay leaves – then barely cover the chicken with broth. add fish sauce and the pinch of sugar – simmer for 20 minutes.

finally add the potatoes, carrots and the coconut juice. add just enough chicken broth to cover the potatoes and carrots. cover and simmer on medium-high heat for 35-40 minutes.

dive in with some warm slices of baguette. ahhh so good.

food bloggers let loose

last wednesday, Scott Pampuch of Corner Table and his fabulous staff hosted a group of us MN Food Bloggers at Corner Table to fill us in on (very exciting) upcoming happenings he is involved in. i stupidly did not bring my camera, so – i’m going to direct you to, the ever-glamorous, Stephanie Meyer’s blog – Fresh Tart. She has great photos and sums up the night pretty perfectly.

pictured below – the most incredible bacon sandwich i have ever tasted. get your butt to Corner Table asap and buy yourself some of that bacon. you can thank me later.

(photo: fresh tart)

rainy day comfort food (spring has sprung!)

i hope it’s safe to say that spring is officially here in minnesota (knock on wood). last night there was thunder and lightning for the first time in months – though, unfortunate because it covered up the super moon – and today is one of those quiet gray early spring days. a perfect day for soup!

SAUSAGE, BEAN & KALE SOUP with PASTA (adapted from bon appetit – makes a big batch)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic chicken sausages, cut up into pieces
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
7 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 small (1 large) bunches of kale, stems cut away, leaves torn into small pieces
2 cans white beans, drained
1-2 bay leaves

freshly ground black pepper
8 oz of pasta (i used a box of shells made from quinoa and corn flour – yum)

cook pasta according to directions on the box. drain and set aside.

in a big pot, heat up olive oil and cook chicken sausages until browned. add onions and garlic and keep cooking until onions are translucent.

add a little bit of the broth into the pot and scrape the yummy bits off the bottom of the pan. pour in the rest of the broth and bring to a boil, add bay leaf and (a lot) of black pepper and turn heat down to a simmer. add the kale, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. now it’s time for the beans and pasta and let simmer for another 15 minutes or so. finally, give it a little taste and add more fresh pepper if necessary.

this soup is wonderful with crusty, fluffy bread (that the mister has been baking a lot recently) and reheats great, so it’s perfect for work lunches and quick dinners.

hummingbird cake

overripe bananas? check. crushed pineapple? check. cream cheese frosting? CHECK. i made a hummingbird cake for the first time last week and am now a fan for life.

recipe notes: i halved the amounts of sugar and probably could have used even less. i can’t even imagine how sugary this cake would have been had the whole amount of sugar been added. also, i only used about half as much frosting and did not put any chopped pecans in it – just in the cake.

this cake is also really good with vanilla ice cream 🙂

candied bacon (pancakes)

have you ever had candied bacon before? it’s kind of amazing. i had it on a salad from a restaurant once and ever since it’s all i can think about.

how to make candied bacon – you’ll need: 1 package thick cut bacon, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

preheat the oven to 350. line a cookie sheet with tin foil and lay out the strips of bacon. sprinkle brown sugar over all the strips. bake for about 20 minutes, flipping bacon halfway through. remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. then chop up and use for whatever or munch on the candied bacon straight up. WARNING: your house will smell insanely awesome.

i whipped up a batch of candied bacon buttermilk pancakes (pictured above). what would you do with it?

p.s. another idea – check out these bacon chocolate chip cookies from Eating for England.

boule, boule, boule, boule!

have you ever read Zoe Bakes? it’s a terrific blog with amazing recipes. the mister loves baking bread so i suggested zoe’s bread book “artisan bread in five minutes a day” – he took my suggestion, added a baking stone and peel to his amazon shopping cart, and now 3 days later, just took his first loaf of bread (a boule) out of the oven!

we both have flipped through and he’s already decided to work through the different kinds of breads (and pizza crusts!) in order. i can’t wait!