Library of Eats

Memories often revolve around food- family gatherings, special outings and the everyday, nourishing the body and soul.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Restaurant Reviews: On's Kitchen and World Street Kitchen

I checked out two new (to me) restaurants this past week with colleagues and friends. 

World Street Kitchen
First, thank you for having offstreet parking in Uptown!  (You don't want to be behind me parallel parking; it is painful to watch. Yes, I'm from and live in the 'burbs.)  We went all out and tried the pickles and aloo tikki chaat.  I have never had anything quite like the latter.  It had a bit of kick, but was more like a spread, so I wish we had pita bread, or something for it.  The pickles were delicious.  I had the lamb belly yum yum bowl, and it was yummy.  I spiced it up with some of their hot sauce selection too.  One miss was the curry peanut butter cookie; it takes a lot for me not to eat something and the curry was too overbearing for me.

On's Kitchen
Go there now!  This is hands-down my new favorite thai restaurant!  I will be getting take-out from there once a month on my way home.  I love this place.  The spring rolls were delicious- balance of crunchy vegetables, noodles, and pork with a nice dipping sauce.  The cream cheese wontons were the best I have had lately, as they weren't over fried and had lots of cream cheese in them.  The reviews all said to get Pad See Ew, and I did.  OMG, the best I have ever had!  I ordered it in between mild and medium and I was sweating a bit, so they really take their spice seriously here.  I washed it all down with a lovely thai tea with condensed milk.  That is a wonderful drink dessert.  Now that I am writing about it I want to go back tomorrow.  So good!

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Pinterst Recipes: 4 Successes

Lately, I have made a few side dishes that I found on Pinterest that I thought I would share that are quite tasty. 

 This past weekend we grilled pork chops from the UMN Meat Lab.  If you haven't checked this place out, do!  I hate sharing my secret, but it is the best tasting pork chops around.  I also love their sundried tomato ground turkey; perfect for Italian casseroles in the winter (we don't eat red meat).   As sides I tried two dishes: lemony parm zucchini and sweet and smokey carrots. The zucchini would have turned out better if they were in planks, like the recipe said.  The carrots were great.  We will make them again soon!
 If you didn't know the trick to ripen avocados is to put them in a paper bag, try it next time you are in a pinch.  I bought a rock hard avocado and it ripened in a day in the bag, so I could make this roasted avocado side dish.  It is a great summertime lunchtime meal. 
 I made a yummy hoisin stir fry last week, but used chicken in this recipe and a lot more veggies!
Based on how many of these m&m cookies my niece Lauren ate on our picnic they are a hit.  I probably did 3/4 a tsp of kosher salt, as some folks said it was too much salt.  I thought it was just right, but I love sweet and salty.
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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bridal Shower Curried Chicken and Lemon Cookies

Over a year ago my aunt Sue and I hosted a bridal shower for my sister-in-law.  We made lots of delicious eats and drinks, but two stand out.  Everyone asks for the curried chicken salad and the lemon cookies recipes.  I need to give credit, as the chicken salad is from my mother-in-law and the cookies from my coworker Amy.  Both a perfect springtime meal.  Enjoy.

Curried Chicken Salad
2 cups, cooked cubed chicken
1 medium apple, chopped
3/4 dried cranberries or cherries
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 Tblsp sliced green onions
3/4 cup mayo
2 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp curry power or to taste

In a bowl combine first 6 ingredients. Combine mayo, lime juice, and curry powder.  Add to chicken mixture and stir to coat.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour until ready to serve.  Serve on bread with lettuce.

Lemon Drop Cookies
(makes about 4 dozen cookies)
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1+ tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. In another bowl or on a large piece of waxed paper, mix together flour,baking powder, baking soda and salt. One-third at a time and beating beating well after each addition, add flour mixture to egg mixture, alternating with sour cream. Stir in lemon zest adn lemon juice. Drop by teaspoonfuls, 1 1/2 inches apart, onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Frost with Lemon Frosting.

Lemon Frosting
6 tablespoons butter 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar 2 tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
In a saucepan melt butter. Stir in sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla. Add enough water to create a good spreading consistency.

(feel free to add more or less lemon juice to get the consistencies of dough and frosting that you need- I like things extra lemony)
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Foodie artist: Sharing a meal

I am in love with Michael Strand's Bowls Around Town project.  He created beautiful ceramic bowls, and circulated them around the community of Portland with a journal and camera.  The public is encouraged to have family or friends over and enjoy and document a favorite dish.  Strand hopes to create a community cookbook based on these experiences. I love that local public libraries are partnering to get the bowls out into the community.  I would love the opportunity to partner with artists more in my position as outreach librarian at the U.  How are other librarians partnering with artists?

I also adore his Misfit Cup Liberation Project, where the public can exchange a long forgotten cup that sits on your shelf for a new handmade piece.  He collects the stories around them, and encourages the owners to enjoy conversation over coffee and tea with his new cup. This reminds me of my time in Japan and London, both of which consisted of many visits with friends, none of which were complete without conversation over a hot beverage.  I hope this brings back teatime to many families across the country.
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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Inspiring artists: Plate as form

I would like to highlight two artists that I have read about lately that I find inspiring.  I will feature a few artists that work in a food-related realm.

  • Julie Green is working around the difficult topic of capital punishment. She documents the last meal of inmates prior to their execution in The Last Supper.  The variety from normal cafeteria fare, fast food, to  custom meals.  It illustrates the lack of humanity and dignity for inmates. One of the most touching plates I saw had a quote from one of the prison officials printed on it and a picture of a birthday cake; the inmate never had a birthday cake, so they invited his/her family and friends to have pizza and cake.  I am proud that Minnesota no longer has the death penalty, and support Julie's mission to make 50 plates a year until the death penalty is abolished. 
  • Have you ever wanted to eat in a museum?  Aki Shibata created an interactive exhibit and social experiment, where community members joined her in the museum for conversation over a meal.  I love the idea of stumbling upon them while enjoying artwork and being taken back by the everyday occurrence in a new place. Do you join in, listen, sit and watch, or move along?  I wish I could have visited or better yet participated when First Dates exhibited.
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Fast Food Fish Sandwich Smackdown

I grew up with fish sticks or McDonald's Filet-o-Fish on Fridays during Lent.  Well, Charlie and I always have a fish sandwich and shamrock shake the weekend of St. Patrick's Day.  This year there were a lot of ads for other sandwiches, so we were curious, which is the best?  Here is my ranking:

  1. Arby's- Who would guess that the best fast food fish sandwich would be from a roast beef place?  The fish was flaky, and the bun to fish ratio was perfect.  The tarter sauce was good, and the lettuce crunchy.  This is my new favorite. 
  2. Wendy's- This came in a close second, as I liked the proportions, but Arby's seasoning was better.
  3. Hardees- There aren't many left in the Twin Cities, but there happens to be one on my way home on Hamline.  This sandwich is not breaded and fried like all the others, and is on a wheat bun.  A refreshing change, and I would get this again when in the neighborhood.
  4. McDonald's- Charlie still likes this one for nostalgia reasons, but I find it limp and often too full of tarter sauce.
  5. White Castle- A horrible waste of fish squeezed into a rectangular patty.
Give one of the new sandwiches a try! 

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Restaurant Overviews: Cam Rahn Bay, Sen Yai Sen Lek, and Pizzeria Lola

A few weeks ago my mom and I had lunch at Cam Ranh Bay in Burnsville.  Thanks mom for coming to my side of the world! What a great place for lunch- no frills, but good service and with a $6.95 lunch special you can't go wrong!  We had wonton soup, with a nice clear and fresh broth. Then spring rolls, which was so-so- mostly cabbage, so I would like to try something else from their appetizers.  We both had the rice noodle bowl with either pork or beef.  Lots of fresh cabbage and bean sprouts, and delicious sauce to accompany it.  Top it off with a sweet roll and you have a great lunch.

 After a week or two of trying to schedule dinner Christine R and I were able to get-together to catch-up on life and of course for me to get my Lia Sophia bobbles that I ordered.  I love my navy and green bracelet- best thing from that order! Since Christine also loves Thai, we decided to give Sen Yai Sen Lek a try.  It was quite delicious!

A great Tom Yum cup of soup, with a slightly sour taste that I love from the lime leaves.

 Their fresh thai spring rolls are unlike any other that I have tried. I must say that they are my new favorite!  The marinated tofu, sausage, bean sprouts, onion, and omelet strip make for a unique balance of textures and flavors.

 My favorite Thai dish is Pad Woon Sen, so I had to try it here. I will honestly say it was only okay.  I asked for it as a medium, and it really had no spice at all.  They needed to bump up the spices, but the crispy vegetables were delicious.
I also finally tried Pizzeria Lola's Korean BBQ Pizza as takeout. It was delicious; I love the soy chili drizzle.  I actually meant to order the Lady Zaza, so I will have to go back. 
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