Food, Recipe

chia seed pudding

These are chia seeds. Yes, I’m talking about the seeds that allowed you to grow your beloved, grassy pet in the 90’s. These are the same ones. But we’re not going to plant them. They’re a superfood, you see! While you’ve forgotten about them, they’ve gotten fancy. People eat them now. Buy them in bulk. Tout the wonders of their omega-3 content. Runners make gels with them and use them for energy. And yet these little seeds look very pre-historic. Up close, they resemble multi-colored pebbles. Mixed with liquids, however, they swell up and become gel-like.

An easy recipe that utilizes these seeds and also falls under the “healthy raw food” category is chia seed pudding, similar to rice pudding but no cooking needed. You can find these at a local co-op.

Chocolate Chia Pudding

2 tablespoons chia seeds

6 tablespoons almond, coconut, or soy milk

a dash cinnamon

1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp honey

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. (Add milk depending on desired consistency: less milk will create a thicker pudding, more milk will make it runnier.) Let the mix sit for an hour, or even better, overnight.

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Food

sinful dinner (the best kind)

Here at Culinary, we don’t %!$# around with food. Because really, no one should. Yeah, we have a variety of dietary restrictions, but that doesn’t mean we sit around like goats at dinner, merrily chomping on lettuce leaves and debating the latest lemon juice cleanse. We believe in indulgence. Mindful indulgence. At the end of the day, if your food looks and tastes unappetizing, no matter how healthy it is, it’s not worth it. So we play around. Goat cheese instead of normal cheese (and really, who says eating goat cheese is “missing out”?) Depending on healthy carbs like sweet potatoes. Lean protein is essential for a balanced diet. Salads will fill you up and add freshness to a rich dinner.

The perk of living in Culinary House is that members cook dinner once a week for 10 people. This means scouring blogs, parents, cookbooks, and friends for food ideas. This means, if you, say, wake up one morning and see this on Tastespotting, you can go ahead and cook it later that night. It’s convenient. It’s luxurious. Sometimes I feel like I’m not a college kid when I sit down to our dinners.

Make this sweet potato dish sometime. Roasted grapes may seem strange, but they’re truly the dark horse of roasted foods, and I will be sure to use them to spice up my next wine & appetizer night. We topped these babies with home-made smoky chili caramel, and served them with salad and lightly-dressed lemon olive oil chicken. The effort is fairly minimal for how great this dinner comes out. The best part? The meal, which fed 9 with leftovers, cost less than $40. That’s less than $5 a person!

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Food, Review

peter reinhart’s bagel primer

You don’t find many, if any, good bagels in Minnesota. They’re just not as prized or appreciated as they are on the East Coast. You can be sure that any breakfast, coffee event, or general snack layout has bagels where I’m from. People are fiercely devoted to savory vs. sweet, butter vs. cream cheese (sometimes swearing by both butter AND cream cheese), favorite places, what cooking technique makes the correct bagel. And this is just the D.C. area. New Yorkers? Whole ‘nother story I know nothing about.

Although that’s not to say Minnesota lacks yummy snacks. Here you can find bars, cookies, sweet things with lots of layers (just like me right now in this cold.)

        

Our house decided to throw a bagel-making event, using techniques and recipes from Peter Reinhart’s Bagel Primer on Epicurious. They came out beautifully, and delicious as well. We made chocolate-chip, cinnamon raisin, sea salt & onion, and some with gruyere cheese.

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Food, Recipe

pandekager – danish crepes

It seems that most European countries have their own version of the crepe. The French are, obviously, known for them. Swedes have a similar light pancake, except it is smaller, and made on a special griddle. The Danes have their famed pancake balls, aebleskiver, but they, too have dessert crepes. And like most Danish experiences, it doesn’t hurt to add beer. In fact, my host family swears by it. Take that, french crepes!

A favorite special past time of my host family’s was a trip to the pancake house. I can only explain it as driving into the woods to a little clearing that contained a tea shop with an attic full of Christmas elf and royal family knick-knacks. To the side of it was a rustic stand with two teenagers working hard to make crepes for hungry visitors.

These pancakes are light and crispy, thanks to the beer. Lemon and cardamom add a fresh taste. They are best enjoyed with a variety of fillings, so get creative. Home-made apple sauce, jam & sugar, nutella & banana, honey, and the Danish classic: ice cream & jam.

Danish Crepes – Pandekager

scant 1 cup flour

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp lemon zest

3 eggs

little less than 1/2 cup milk

3 tbsp light beer

Combine ingredients together in one bowl with a hand mixer or whisk. Let the mixture chill for half an hour. Drink the remaining beer while you wait. Pour into a frying pan and cook over medium heat in butter, flipping once.

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Food, Review

post-break

I divided my time this winter break between school and home, staying at school to work and then enjoying two weeks of responsibility-free life with the family. There aren’t too many places to eat in Northfield, but one of them that become a consistent winter favorite was El Tequila, whose colorful setting, giant margaritas, and spicy food provided a short respite from the weather.

I got up to Minneapolis occasionally and visited a few notable eateries. My favorite had to be Kramarczuk’s which I had seen on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives only a week earlier. This is eastern European comfort food at its finest–cabbage rolls stuffed with juicy meat and topped with an addictive tomato cream sauce, rich borscht, lamb sausage, and dumplings!

I also visited Salty Tart Bakery at the Midtown Market. It was voted “Best Bakery” in a recent “Best of Minneapolis” article, and so naturally I wanted to try their cupcakes. Maybe their pastries and other delicious items (cheesecake! tarts!) are what merited the award. Personally, I was very disappointed by the cupcakes. I tried the dulce de leche and the salty chocolate. They look beautiful but fall prey to the frosting mistake: too much damn butter! You shouldn’t feel as if you are eating a sweetened dollop of pure butter on your cupcake. Sorry, Salty Tart. I’m still on the hunt for the best cupcake in Minneapolis.

Finally, when I came home I hosted a small Danish-themed holiday party, making favorite dishes such as glogg (spiced wine,) ris a la mande (creamy rice pudding with almonds and cherry sauce,) marzipan, and more. It was a great way to reconnect with some friends and celebrate one year since I returned from being abroad. I miss it so much! I’ll be back soon, Denmark.

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