Baby it’s getting cold outside…Yay! Now is the time to plant your garlic.
Planting garlic this year on your own? Here is a link from my alma mater the University of Minnesota. Best to be in the ground just after the first killing frost say the experts. So Now. More information can be found here, regarding the MN Premium Garlic Project.
Garlic. Garlic. Garlic. I recently pulled out the last of my garlic scape butter that I whipped up in July, so sad. It was delicious however.
Speaking of garlic.
Minnesota Garlic Festival 2019 done and gone, but my did we do some innovative and interesting things. We are already getting ready for next year.
Minnesota Garlic Festival 2020, watch out! Here we come! Well, really we are just beginning to plan for next year, but it is such a fun event that we can’t wait to see what happens next.
I had the privilege of working alongside some of the best chefs in the business as we collaborated, mind melded and executed yet another successful year for the Sustainable Farming Association.
Mary Jane Miller the Food Demo Stage Emcee and all around “get it done” gal facilitated the food demos and guest chef entertainment. We were proud to have, Chef Beth Dooley, James Beard Award Winner and author, Chef Joe Holmes of Red Stag Supperclub (He has recently been named Executive Chef at Lela Restaurant & Sheraton Hotel at Marriott International…Congrats!), Chef Jessica Cak of Bon Appetit, Chef Kristi Varner of Mainstreet Farmer and Eatery, Jennifer Lindblom of In Bloom and me Jessica Tijerina, I helped to manage the food demo stage on the back end as well as hop up on stage to do a little demo of my own.
Here is a link to the recipe that I demonstrated. Grilled Lamb Chops with Garlic Chimichurri.
None of this would have been a success without the many wonderful volunteers who show up, ready to help wherever needed! I can’t thank you enough for all that you do to help make this day successful. The Food Demo Stage team was on fire! It was fun as always and the months leading up to it planning, prepping, recipe testing, etc. all comes down to just a few hours of excitement for the festival goers.
Interested in joining us as a volunteer next year? Love to help out in the kitchen? Like to sample food? Hey! Do you like garlic? Then, reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Check out these photos! Crazy right?!!
Information for next year is already in the works. Please visit the Sustainable Farming Association website for more information.
I honestly don’t know where to begin. Living in Minneapolis/St. Paul we are fortunate to have many women owned businesses that are thriving. I am a member of WWRC or Women Who Really Cook started by our very own Sue Zellickson. It is a “professional networking organization for women in the food and hospitality industry.”
They recently hosted a pop-up event at Cafe Latte in St. Paul. I went as an excuse for a chocolate tart from Cafe Latte (Ha! Just teasing…sort of) and I ended up walking away with new friends, a new chef coat and chocolate! I met women from several locally owned businesses such as Kyle of Daddy Sam’s All -Natural Sawces, Michelle from Luvafoodie, Tonja from Tonja’s Table, Sunrise Flour Mill, Mostly Made, Superior Switchel, Tasya from Isadore Nut Co. who I have a special place in my heart for when I saw and sampled the peppermint chocolate nut mix and Melinda, Founder and Confectioner at Burnt Sugar Confectionary. I was thoroughly impressed by Melinda’s charisma, passion and excitement for what she does. She is bringing back some oldies that brought me back to childhood. One of my fondest memories during the holidays was to go to Fleet Farm and pick out a bag of candy to put on the table at grandma and grandpa’s. Without hesitation, I chose chocolate coated angel food. Now, some of you may not know of this delicacy, but I know someone who does, Melinda at Burnt Sugar. As a former pastry chef, she whips up oldies and goodies such as, meringue, peanut rolls, torrone, seafoam candy (angel food candy), caramel and much more to make your mouth water. She was a darling to chat with and I look forward to tasting more of the sweets. Quality control of course. (oh and I did indeed say Fleet Farm)
I am ever grateful for these types of opportunities and I look forward to meeting and working alongside so many of these women in the future. Let us all continue to shine, be of inspiration to others and work hard at what we love to do in the name of food and hospitality. “Whatever it is you are searching for, I hope you can eat it.” -Jessica Tijerina
Recipe for, you guessed it: Angel Food Candy aka Sponge Candy
As in I would eat Pho 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That’s Pho Sho. Are you Pho Real? Phogetaboutit. Enough already.
Vietnamese cuisine is influenced by the Asian principle of 5 elements and Mahābhūta. Check it out, it’s interesting.
I recently taught a Pho class at the Abundant Kitchen, from bone to broth. It was an adventure for me in itself as I have loved Pho for years and years and years and years and have made it often. I will let you in on a little secret. Sometimes I cheat. I use a ready made soup paste that my local friend at Shuang Hur Supermarket in Minneapolis uses when she feels “super lazy.” Alas, it is but a substitute. Nevertheless, it does not compare to the 6+ hour process from bone to broth. Better yet, you can tailor it to whatever your taste is. You like a lot of clove? Add more clove! You don’t like cinnamon? Use less cinnamon! It’s your soup, make it the way you want.
The photos are that of oxtail and the spices and vegetables used for making Phở Bò, Vietnamese beef noodle soup. Typically I like knuckle joints and beef bones, but they were out that day at Shuang Hur, so I substituted with oxtail, which also provides a rich, thick and mouth watering broth. The cast iron Le Creuset pan (click here for where to buy) contains star anise, cinnamon, ginger, white onion, clove, black cardamom (very different from the typical green cardamon sold at the grocery store) and fennel.
I find myself adding more spices every time that I make it. My favorite part has to be the finale of the masterpiece. The toppings. As with my Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup, I love me some toppings!
Mint, Basil, hoisin sauce, red chili pepper flakes, jalapeno and bean sprouts. Toss it all in until you can’t tell its soup. Ok, not really. It just looks like it with all of those bean sprouts that I added.
Follow the link for the recipe for Phở Bò and tell me what you think. I really want to hear how it turned out.
My next adventure will be homemade rice noodles! Try it once I say. Then, buy them for .99¢ for a bag that will last you forever.
Enjoy this beautiful 95 degree day! Check on your garden, the plants need watering.
Ciao for now…or…tạm biệt
For as long as I can remember, our family gets together on Mother’s Day to play games, sit outside and eat!
So many great memories have been created at family get-togethers, holidays, graduations, supporting one another and nearly all of them had something to do with food.
One year, I made a several course meal with shrimp for my mom. It was fun, challenging and delicious.
The unfortunate part is that we will never be able to replicate it since our mother now has a shellfish allergy. What?! Yes, sad, it’s true. Sorry mom.
The Strongest Women that I know.
I am grateful every day that I grew up surrounded by strong, compassionate, supportive and resilient women. It helped to form the shell or protective armor, that surrounds who I choose to be today. Life can be a challenge and with challenges we find opportunities. Opportunities to make choices one way or another. Without the support, confidence, acceptance and patience of these two women, I may have made different choices in life. For the better? For the worst? It doesn’t matter. I know that I am living the best life that I can today. With strength, compassion, support and resilience. Grandma, I miss you every day. You loved me with everything that you had. Mom, you are the most amazing woman that I know and I love you more every day.
One of our favorite movies is “Ever After” and there is a quote that the king says to his son, “I am going to deny you the crown…and…and live forever!” My sister and I giggle and look at our mama and say, “that’s ok, we accept”.
Celebrate the women in your life who give you strength and support. Please share with us how these women have helped to shape you…often times to take a breathe and be reminded gives us the courage to make it through a tough day.
This year, our dad is going to make a large pork shoulder on the new grill they purchased. I can’t wait! I offered to bring something, they declined, so I am bringing a side dish. Here a few that I am considering: Please let me know if you made any of them and how they turned out!
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the beautiful women in our lives!
“Whatever it is you are searching for, I hope you can eat it.”
“Season your pan”, they say. “Don’t use soap”, they say. “Cook an egg in it”, they say.
The first time I tried to cook an egg in a new cast iron pan I thought I had to return it. Once I cracked the egg into the pan, it spread thin and immediately began to curl around the edges and burn, while the yolk did a little dance I attempted to edge a spatula under it to flip it and that is when I realized I bought the wrong pan for eggs. Right? It couldn’t be me. I knew how to cook eggs!
Here is a look at what went wrong:
- I didn’t season it. Why? Because I didn’t know that was what I had to do. It became apparent to me that I only cooked in my grandmother and mothers pans. Never did I have to wash or season it. (that I remember)
- I used Dawn dish soap and let it dry in the drying rack. Why? Because no one told me that I had a pan where soap wasn’t needed and that somehow I would not get food poisoning…
- I didn’t allow the pan to heat up to where it needed to be and I didn’t use enough fat. Why? Because I didn’t know how good food tastes after years of baking fat into a pan. Like a topographic map, under a microscope, a cast iron pan has peaks and valleys and when we season a pan, the fats used seep into the valleys and form a base layer of flavor, which also protects the pan.
I remember when my grandmother would use her cast iron. The eggs would slide around in the pan like an Olympic skater as she turned the handle to cook them and then with a twist of her wrist they would glide onto the plate like a manta ray through a wave.
I remember she saved the grease in a rinsed out Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup can on the stove for use later. Why?
Because bacon grease.
I cook everything from eggs to upside down cake to truffle potatoes and rib-eye steak in my cast iron. I even have a grill pan that I use for paninis or chicken from stove top to oven.
Cast iron are versatile, nearly indestructible and a lot of people are afraid to use them.
Let’s take a look at how to clean, cook and store cast iron.
I recently taught a class at The Abundant Kitchen in Buffalo, MN called Cooking with Cast Iron. It was fun, informative and I broadened my knowledge of what I have learned in the 25+ years of cooking with cast iron.
We learned how to season, cook an egg, strip a cast iron from a flea market, clean and store.
- Season: I always make sure there is a fat in the pan before use and I put it in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes prior to cooking in it.
- Lard or high smoke point oil: Canola, Peanut, Avocado, etc.
- Clean: When finished cooking, I wipe out the pan and give it a warm water rinse.
- Store: I put it back into the 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. I turn off the oven and let it cool inside until next time.
If you are feeling uneasy about your cast iron pan and want to feel confident to cook anything in it, Contact Me and I can walk you through an educational class in your home. Or take a class at The Abundant Kitchen. You can shop for a new one while you learn!
Follow the links to the recipes:
Until next time…Cast away!
Make ahead, reheat and eat, bake and serve or from fridge to table. All of these sound like a wonderful idea, but where do we find the time? I tell you from experience and from the years of making excuses as to why making food ahead was a waste of time, that it certainly is not. Once we get in our right mind (Debatable what that looks like) we are able to see that once or even twice per week if we do a little shopping, hang out in the kitchen for a bit and pack away some meals, that in the long run, we end up having more time to take our family on day outings that we’ve been promising for months, read that book that sits on the table mocking us daily, take a nap in the backyard hammock we insisted we needed three years ago and have sat in it once. You get the idea.
Look, all that I ask is to give it a try. Spend a small amount of time in your kitchen once or twice a week to make a few meals and store for a later time. It is in the long run less time than you would spend daily either in the kitchen slamming cupboards or staring into the refrigerator at the vegetables that have gone bad or driving through the fast food line. I don’t know how you like to eat, but if I eat fast food several times a week or even if I could pick my favorite sit down restaurant and eat it 3 times a week, my body and my mind would go into shock.
I have found that in the past when I have done this (in what I thought was because I didn’t have time to cook), I began to crave fast food and turn my nose up at a home cooked meal. Wait. What?? Yes, it is true. The healthier I eat, the healthier I feel and the healthier I want to eat. The fast food stop becomes a treat, rather than a necessity for fuel. I am hungry a lot quicker too and typically crave fats and sugars. My family knows that when I am hungry nothing good can come of it until I am fed. High metabolism mixed with the routine of snacking all day leads to a hot, cranky, yet silent mess of a Jessica. When I am quiet, they know I am hungry. There is this funny card I saw the other day at Trader Joe’s that says, “I am sorry for what I said when I was hungry”. I bought the all and have already mailed one out.
Make a list of the meals that you want to eat (recipes linked below for a starting point), prep one day if you want or do it all in one afternoon and then store for later.
I have a few recipes that I have found to be the best time spent in the kitchen for a meal later. I also have a link to a 15-minute one pot pasta. Seriously? Only 15 minutes? That is impossible!! Nope. It isn’t.
Masala Chicken with Green Yogurt Sauce
Baked Oatmeal (For breakfast during the week or for the boys when I am out of town)
What can you pre-prep and freeze to make it even easier? Chop and freeze onions, garlic, peppers, cheese, etc. Especially cost efficient when these items are on sale.
What containers do you store food in? Glass, plastic, bags?
“Whatever it is you are searching for, I hope you can eat it.”
Oh no! What is that smell?! Around the age of 7, I was introduced to a world of smells and flavors I had never known and would never forget. Initially my reaction was turning my nose up (or plugging it). There was a family down my street past the culdesac in a large white house with black trim windows in which we used to visit on occasion. To this day the foreign smells of what I would have described then as old, musty and chalky were in fact a bouquet of fresh ground spices, herbs and citrus. As I took deep breaths, my lungs would be enveloped in a colorful cloud of warmth, my mouth would water, my stomach hungered.
The home was brimming with the aromatics of ingredients used to make dishes from India.
I now have a handful of Indian cookbooks, but the first cookbook I made any type of Indian fare was from was a recipe for Garam Masala out of Joy of Cooking. I know, right? I had to learn somewhere.
I share my passion for food and the love of cooking with family, friends and strangers the like. My family and friends have become my students and my guinea pigs and strangers have become pupils, friends and guinea pigs. Ha Ha!
On that note, I was given the opportunity to hang out with a friend of mine for an afternoon and she had asked if I knew how to make any Indian food…we began with Garam Masala and ended up with lunch, laughter and another date. Thank you my friend for making me smile, laugh, allowing me to educate, be educated and remember what life is all about. Family, friends and good food.
Garam Masala (Garam = Hot and Masala = Mixture of Spices) and the term “hot” is not indicative of spicy hot or heat, but rather warmth of the body as certain spices and herbs are consumed. Tridosha, a Hindu teaching that some foods are warming and some are cooling.
The traditional spice mixture for Garam Masala varies, but what I have come to utilize and what has worked for me is a combination of cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, black peppercorn, cumin, fennel, star anise and nutmeg. Other variations may include mace (from the same fruit as nutmeg, but fruitier), and bay leaves. All of which begin as whole spices and are ground to a fine powder.
Find the recipe for Garam Masala here.
Enjoy! Leave a comment if you have a recipe to share that works for you.
Well hello friends. It has been a couple of weeks, thank you for your patience. I know you have all been at the ready for my next published recipe! 🙂
Here is a fun and very random encounter with a stranger that I would like to share. Turns out, it was an excellent opportunity and of course, it got me cooking in the kitchen.
I went to Cub Foods, a local grocery store, a block from my house in Minneapolis and needed to buy chicken for tamales. I met a gentleman who works for Smart Chicken and we got to chatting up food and recipes. He asked if I would be interested in writing an article for and providing a few recipes for Cafe Tecumseh, their quarterly newsprint and digital magazine. I had to think about it…NAH! Just kidding, I said, “Absolutely, it would be fun!”
Ever had a random encounter that lead to something unexpected? I would love to hear all about it. Post and share in the comments below. I am sure we would all love a fun story! Distracts us from the -7 degree weather. 🙂 And who wants to chip ice off their front step today anyway? Not this girl!
Anyway, I provided 3 recipes and an interview. One recipe was published in the magazine, Lemongrass Coconut Chicken Soup, which so happens to be several of my clients favorite! You can pick up a copy of the magazine where ever Smart Chicken is sold.
Here is the link to the digital version of Cafe Tecumseh.
Share your thoughts and comments please. I truly appreciate all feedback. It is how I learn best!
I hope that you enjoy this soup as much as we do.
Yours Truly, Jessica
I have not felt well at all since Christmas Eve. There. I thought maybe if I put it out there in the cyber universe, some AI (artificial intelligence) who had been monitoring my blog would send a medic drone that flew to my house and sprayed some “get better now” remedy as a test. (I would have given up all of my presents to feel better over the holidays)
That was completely out there, but I am grasping. It has been 1 month, yes Christmas Eve, that it all began with the dreaded scratchy, sore throat. A few hours later, the heat clouds circled behind my eyes as they welled up and burned like they had been exposed to nothing, but heat and sand for days. I sneezed, I coughed, I blew my nose and then…face turned to faucet and it wasn’t allergies. Ugh!
I made the infamous chicken noodle soup, which I had made the week prior for my boyfriend, who had also been sick for over 2 weeks to the point that his son and I monitored him as he slept. It had been 4 weeks for him and he still had a dry, rough cough. I thought I had avoided it. Nope! I still can’t breathe deeply without coughing and the cough is dry…so soup it is.
My mother made us chicken noodle soup as kids and it was a recipe she learned from my grandmother, Noemi, who is Mexican-American.
Egg noodles, chicken, carrots, celery, cumin, celery salt, paprika, garlic and chicken broth, salt and pepper. That’s it.
When you’re feeling like you just can’t get rid of the ick…Chicken Noodle Soup with cumin and a touch of celery salt. It may not be a cure, but is sure does calm the nerves and stifle the sniffles. Oh! A LOT of garlic. Just wait until you see how much.
RECIPE FOUND HERE
Enjoy! Take Care. Cuidate.
We were recently given the opportunity to chef an event for a birthday party. It was a 23 person 2-course sit down dinner with appetizers beforehand. The appetizers were amazing! Imported and domestic meat and cheese platters, bacon wrapped dates, fancy mixed nuts (Included rosemary Marcona almonds! If you have not had them, you are missing out. You can find them at Trader Joe’s for $5.99 a bag), chocolate truffles, cranberry brie bites and assorted breads and crackers. I displayed it in winter fashion with garland and berries and candles. Beautiful! The guests were afraid to eat anything at first and began taking pictures and posting to FB and Instagram. I think I nailed it! Salad was arugula, pork belly, blackberries, horseradish cheddar, red onion and jicama with a blackberry thyme balsamic dressing, made by yours truly. I wasn’t sure what the dressing would taste like, but I kept adding a little thyme at a time…Needless to say, I made it for Christmas presents.
The party was a hit, despite the oven shutting itself off every time we opened it (unbeknownst to us). The main course and carrots were 20 minutes off schedule, but the guests were entertaining themselves and having a good time. The salad went off without a snag, but I did, indeed forget the bread baskets, as in, I forgot to buy them and didn’t notice until I was reminded and then I am sure the look on my face was of utter incompetence. Well, we made it through and we survived another event.
By the way, the “we” I am referring to is not just any ordinary hired kitchen help, it is my mother and sister. They both have helped me since day one with event after crazy event. Despite my tendency to get too creative and little off the wall at the last minute, they are both patient and my mother reigns me in every time. We have learned to work like clockwork and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not only are they family, but my dearest friends whom I trust to help execute flawlessly to the bitter end without question.
Thank you Mom and Sis! I couldn’t do it without you both.
On that lovely note, here is the Blackberry Thyme Balsamic Dressing recipe.
Happy Holiday to you and yours! I hope we get snow.