This was going to be a short piece about the kalbi pork sandwich. What better expression of the Get Sauced food truck’s high-flavor Latin-Asian-American fusion than a saucy pile of barbecued pork on a soft bun?
And then we tasted the Mexican Corn ($4). It’s just a side dish, a little might-as-well-since-we’re-here addition. And it totally stole the show.
You can’t really call it elote, the guy taking our order reminded us. That’s what corn on the cob is called in Mexico. This is corn charred over the grill and cut off the cob, but it is flavored with the toppings inspired by way elote is served as a street snack in Mexico, often slathered with mayo and rolled in cheese and chili powder.
The guys at Get Sauced toss the corn kernels with a very lightly spiced aioli, tangy with lime and chili, along with chopped cilantro and plenty of crumbly cotija cheese. It’s so simple, but we couldn’t keep our forks out of it. The magic ingredient was the grill — the most prized bites were definitely the ones with nearly blackened bits of corn.
When the corn was gone, we remembered the kalbi pork and barbecue pulled chicken sandwiches we had started (both $8). Like the corn, the kalbi tasted distinctly of the grill, in a good way. Finely shredded and tender, rich and tangy with ginger and soy, the pork was the better of the two sandwiches. The barbecue sauce on the hefty chunks of chicken breast was very sweet and a little flat.
Both were served on a good, substantial, sweet, soft bun. But they also came with forks sticking straight up out of them, because the bun is entirely beside the point. There’s just no way we could pick up either of these babies. Instead, we forked up bits of saucy meat and thought longingly of the corn we had just finished.
It just goes to show, there are no small parts on the stage… or at a food truck.
(A side note: Get Sauced is the fastest food truck ever. We had barely paid for our order when our sandwiches were in our hands.)
Subscribing to a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm share can be both exciting and overwhelming. There’s something thrilling about the anticipation that builds all week, leading up to delivery day when you lift the lid of your box to discover what combination of fresh-off-the-farm produce your farmer has brought: Perhaps gnarled heirloom tomatoes in Crayola-vivid yellows, oranges, and reds; or crisp carrots tied in bunches and with feathery tops still attached; or juicy cantaloupe with its gentle, sweet perfume. But it can be a challenge to find new ways to use up all of that produce, especially vegetables you’ve never seen before (like celeriac, or Harukai japanese turnips) or vegetables you’ve seen before and dislike (kale or black radish, for example). The newly released cookbook Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America’s Farmers, by Sur La Table with Janet Fletcher [304 pages, jacketed hardcover, Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, $35.00] strives to help you “make the most of the fresh ingredients from your CSA box or farmers’ market and celebrate the goods grown in your community.”
Not merely a cookbook, Eating Local also profiles 10 CSA farms that “are a representative cross section of the movement,” including Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm in Harris, MN, which both cultivates produce and raises livestock, and Morning Song Farm in southern California, which claims to be the nation’s only rare-fruit CSA. Collectively, the 10 profiles sketch out for us the life of a CSA farmer, from starting the farm, to selecting crops, to packing the boxes each week. Of Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm, the authors write, “Empty cardboard boxes stand ready in the shade of the hoop house, waiting to be filled according to [farmer] Robin’s posted diagram: heavy stuff on the bottom, shapes juxtaposed artfully, a riot of color on top. She wants shareholders to open the box and be stirred by the beauty.” Each profile contains snippets of insight, from kitchen tips such as “Take pesto beyond basil. Substitute spinach, kale, or garlic scape for some or all of the basil” to a listing of the farmers’ favorite crops, to a sentence or two discussing the farm’s philosophy.
Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm contributed three recipes: Pickled Yellow Wax Beans with Fresh Dill; Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm’s Slaw; and Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm Ketchup.
Recipes — 150 of them — are divided among three major sections, vegetables; fruits; and poultry, meat, and eggs; and then organized alphabetically for easy reference by primary ingredient within each section, from artichokes to turnips; apples to pomegranates; and beef to pork. Many of the recipes, such as Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich with Asian Pears and Prosciutto or Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Sauce, require the use of a grill, so, if you do not enjoy grilling, this might not be the book for you. Because two of the three sections are produce-focused, many of the recipes are vegetarian; however, even in the vegetables section, some of the recipes call for anchovies, a bit of bacon, or slices of sausage. Storage and gardening tips appear at the back of the book.
Sprinkled throughout the book are creative suggestions for using parts of the vegetables one might normally discard: Use “bok choy ribs as a celery substitute, or as low-calorie dippers in place of chips for guacamole”; or tender, young radish greens to make pesto; or carrot tops to make soup or sparingly in juicing and in salads. One recipe, Warm Chard Ribs with Yogurt, Toasted Walnuts, and Dill, centers entirely around the chard rib, which more commonly ends up in compost heaps.
While the new Sweets Bakeshop‘s official grand opening isn’t for another week, (November 14, to be exact), they are open to the public and serving up macaroons and cupcakes to an excited St. Paul crowd. One of this weekend’s features was the Kettle Corn cupcake ($3), a moist, not-too-sweet corn cupcake with crisp, sugary crust. It was piled high with a light honey buttercream and pieces of candied corn. It would make a delicious, adult addition to a Thanksgiving dessert spread.
Nearly every famous chef, at one time or another, has been asked, “What is the most valuable tool in your kitchen?” The answers vary from the utilitarian — balloon whisks, tongs, and cast iron skillets — to the more poetic, “my hands.”
No one ever says asparagus cooker.
Who dreamed up this poor-Johnny-one-note of the kitchen? Most likely, a wedding planner. It seems to end up on every registry, yet you never see it in people’s homes. A lonely back-cabinet dweller, the asparagus pot only sees the stove once or twice a year — in spring, before the barbeque rolls out and people start grilling the tender green spears.
So why not sell it at the yard sale? Everyone we asked said: It’s stainless steel and it has a thick, even-heating aluminum base… it’s pretty much the best pot in the house; it’s too good to sell.
Well then, it’s too good to waste. Here are five uses for an asparagus pot that should help it keep pace with the micro-planer and spice grinder for weekly favorite:
Two whole ears of corn will fit in an asparagus cooker with ample room for the lid. Bring an inch or so of water to boil in the asparagus pot. Trim the ends of the corn and shuck it, leaving the husks in place. Pull out the silk and slather the corn in sweet butter, fresh herbs, salt, and pepper. Wrap it back up, tuck it in the asparagus basket and drop it in the pot. Cook for five minutes — voila! Carefully remove the basket and, using tongs, remove the crisp, juicy sweet corn.
4. Hard-boiled eggs:
Place the eggs in the asparagus basket, lower into the pot, and cover with cold water. Place a lid on the pot and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat and leave the eggs in the pot with the lid on for 10 minutes. Pull the basket out of the water and run cold water over the eggs. That’s it: no cracked eggs, no green rings. And the eggs look cute in the basket, too.
3. Spaghetti and fettucini:
Pasta gives this tall, skinny pot purpose. Put the basket in the asparagus pot and fill with water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil and add noodles. Watch the noodles slide into the water, give them a quick stir, and cook for 10 minutes (or directed time). Once they are al dente, carefully remove the basket, drain over the sink and toss the noodles in a bowl.
2. Boiled chicken:
Put the asparagus basket in the pot and add water, just to the bottom. Place two chicken breasts — with or without skin and bones, though I prefer both for reasons of tenderness — in the basket, add the lid, and bring the water to a simmer for 6 to 10 minutes boneless or 15 to 20 minutes bone-in. Remove the basket from the water carefully and use tongs to retrieve the chicken, which can be slathered in sauce, sliced over salad, shredded, or whatnot.
The best for last! Sure, you can only fit one doughnut (or several holes) in the asparagus pot at a time, but the benefit is you never have to reheat the oil mid-stream — and isn’t a cake doughnut worth your undivided attention?
Adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl
3 ½ c all-purpose flour
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
2 ¼ c sugar
¾ cup low-fat buttermilk
½ stick (4 tbs) unsalted butter
Vegetable oil for deep frying
1. Sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Whisk together 1 c sugar, buttermilk, butter, and eggs in another bowl. Add mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until a sticky dough forms.
3. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and gently knead eight times.
4. Roll the dough into a 12-inch round, about ⅓-inch thick, and cut donuts using a 3-inch cutter. Use a ½ to ¾-inch cutter to make the hole (if you have no cutter, a glass will do the trick!). Gather the scraps and re-roll, cutting in the same manner.
5. Fill the asparagus pot about ¾ full with oil and heat to 375° F on the thermometer.
6. Slide one doughnut into the oil at a time. Do not drop it into the pot or oil will splatter from hell to breakfast. Once the doughnut floats to the top, turn it, let it cook for 50 seconds then turn it again and fry for 50 seconds more. Lift the doughnut out of the oil using a Chinese mesh skimmer or some other wide, slotted utensil and set it on a paper bag to drain. Once it has cooled enough, dredge the doughnut in remaining sugar, which can be doctored with cinnamon or cardamom.
Repeat! Remember to monitor the heat, adjusting it to keep the temperature at 375° F at all times.