The Ramen Architect

John Ng of Zen Box Izakaya is a designer, engineer, and builder (of soup) If he weren’t a chef, John Ng of Zen Box Izakaya might be a kung fu master. This is literally true: the architect-turned-izakaya co-owner has been practicing martial arts for 16 years, having begun his training while living in San Francisco. … [ Read more]

Rick Nelson and Lee Svitak Dean Tell the Stories Behind “The Great Minnesota Cookie Book”

Cookies are personal. They’re sweet and festive, sure, but they’re also holiday traditions made concrete—family histories rendered with cups of sugar and sticks of butter. The just-released “Great Minnesota Cookie Book” is an overflowing platter of Minnesota cookie history. Within its covers are 77 finalist and champion recipes from the Star Tribune’s annual holiday cookie … [ Read more]

First Course: Revolution!

A ‘Guerrilla Harvest Dinner’ heralded the birth of the Ashland and Bayfield chapter of the Wisconsin Farmers Union I. An Improvised Feast The spreadsheet for the harvest dinner stretched 49 lines deep. Each line was an offering from an individual that reflected a different aspect of the harvest: “Two pecks of apples and some onions.” … [ Read more]

Hunter, Writer, Butcher, Cook: Jamie Carlson and Minnesota’s wild foods movement

Jamie Carlson’s idea of a perfect field snack is a raw antelope liver, taken directly from the freshly killed animal itself. “Raw antelope liver is the sweetest thing you’re ever going to have,” he says while tending a campfire at Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan. “Pull it out, rinse it off, put a little … [ Read more]

Food for Thought: A U of M partnership yields some exotic fruits

Across the country, campus dining tends to be where mediocre food comes to a bad end, ladled from plastic bags into heating vessels and then into troughs where it is consumed with a mixture of indifference and resentment. “Banquets” are sorry affairs, dominated by overcooked vegetables, cloying desserts, and rubber chicken entrees more appropriate to … [ Read more]

Cooking with Beth Dooley: Raspberry Pie Recipe

It’s raspberry season and the fruit is coming in splendidly. We’ll enjoy thimble sized berries now (first crop) for several weeks, and then again in the fall with the everbearing raspberries. They freeze beautifully and make marvelous jams. But nothing beats raspberry pie with rum-spiked ice cream. Raspberry Pie Makes one 9-inch pie or 2–4 … [ Read more]

Taste of the Country, On an Urban Table: Lenny Russo and Daniel Cataldo of ninetwentyfive

If you’re going to tell the story of food in the Upper Midwest, it’s helpful to think of a circle. People here were once intimately interconnected with the land and seasons as farmers, hunters, and fishers, and every ingredient had a story about where it was from and when it was harvested that was intimately … [ Read more]

Gearing Up for the Hunt: Q&A with the authors of “Untamed Mushrooms”

In culinary circles, mushroom hunting is a serious business. In Russia, it’s a favorite pastime; in France, it’s called la chasse aux champignons, and it’s something of a national mania. The appeal is simple: It’s a chance to harvest beautiful, delicious, commercially expensive gifts from nature, step up your cooking game, and commune with nature … [ Read more]

Spinning the Wheels: The goats (and cheese) of Capra Nera Creamery

The gently pitched and sprawling green fields of Altura, Minnesota, are part of the Driftless Area. The land shrugs and dips, and there are whorls and ripples that make their way across the turf. You are tenderly enfolded by the landscape rather than dwarfed by it. This is where Capra Nera Creamery cheesemaker Katie Bonow’s … [ Read more]

Cooking with Beth Dooley: Strawberries & Rum Cream Recipe

Yes, the strawberries are in! Shout it from the mountains: alpine strawberries, those tiny local berries bursting with tangy-sweet taste, have arrived at the farmers’ markets! Run, don’t walk, lest they get snatched up before you get some. Because these first-of-the-year berries are especially intense and delicious, you don’t want to do anything that will … [ Read more]

Hive Minds: How bees are inspiring food purveyors, artists, and policy wonks

Rawest Form of Honey Making a Comb-Back From peanut butter toast for breakfast to a hot toddy for breakf… a nightcap, a drizzle of honey makes everything better. And while local honey farmers have built a cottage industry around that spoonful of sugar, one farm is harvesting something a little less refined. Ames Farms is … [ Read more]

Smoke and No Mirrors: The effort and integrity behind Northern Waters Smokehaus

I spent a couple decades in real estate, where I saw every kind of sales pitch, from the clumsiest—delivered by a transparently thirsty postgraduate sweating through the armpits of his big-boy sport coat—to the most sophisticatedly smooth. One thing I learned is that we are all selling something almost all of the time, even if it’s … [ Read more]

Cooking with Beth Dooley: Easy Rhubarb-Strawberry Jam Recipe

Rhubarb, that bright, tangy vegetable (I think of it as a fruit) that announces spring. It’s going gangbusters in my backyard and you’ll find it piled high in farmers’ market stalls. It’s naturally tart, and a perfect pairing with strawberries—spring’s other darling. This easy jam makes a fine spread for morning toast, a nice garnish … [ Read more]

Go for Goat: Advocating for an under-appreciated protein with chef Alan Bergo

I will never forget the Barbacoa de Chivo at Tacqueria La Huasteca for the rest of my taco-eating life. The goat arrived steaming hot in a shade of brilliant crimson, with long strands of fibrous meat, cordlike, intertwining and trapping the braising juices. The very first bite decorated my white shirt with a streak of murder-victim … [ Read more]

Cooking with Beth Dooley: Spring Pear Salad with Microgreens Recipe

If you are as impatient as I am for spring, salads of locally grown greens may help ease the transition. Several Minnesotan farmers, such as Living Greens Farm in Faribault and St. Paul’s Urban Organics, are making real fresh salads possible all year long. The microgreens, arugula, kale, and mixed lettuces they grow brighten our … [ Read more]