The Perfect Arnold Palmer

James Norton / Heavy Table

This summer, it has slowly but inevitably dawned upon me that a scratch-made Arnold Palmer is the ultimate nonalcoholic summer beverage. It’s an ideal balance of sweet, tart, and astringent, and it has both depth of flavor and brute chugability. It brooks no challengers.

Chance circumstances resulted in the creation of the best-tasting Arnie Palmer I’ve ever slammed. While making a batch of the beverage for a grill-out, I used the fruit I had on hand: lemons, yes, but also a couple of ripe oranges. The mellow depth of the orange juice married perfectly with the earthiness of the black tea and bridged the ade and tea halves of the beverage creating the tastiest version of the drink I’ve had to date.

The recipe below will get you a good Arnold Palmer, but you may want to tinker with the proportion of tea to citrus-ade, and potentially add less sugar (this is a reasonably sweet recipe, and it could work with three-quarters or even half of the sugar, depending upon your tastes).

James Norton / Heavy Table

THE PERFECT ARNOLD PALMER
James Norton
Yield: 2 quarts

Juice from:
4 medium lemons
2 medium oranges

3 cups just-brewed black tea (I like Lipton loose-leaf Yellow Label tea, which you can find in most Indian markets)
4 cups water
1 cup sugar

1. Combine the fruit juice, ½ cup of sugar, and the 4 cups of water in a pitcher or bowl. Mix well.

2. Pour the hot brewed tea into a second pitcher or bowl along with ½ cup of sugar. Mix well and give it 10-15 minutes to cool down.

3. Add the citrus-ade to a larger pitcher (8+ cup capacity), and add some or all of the tea mixture. Taste for sweetness and balance, adding more tea and/or sugar as needed.

4. Refrigerate and enjoy.

Variants: You can add a handful of cut strawberries (4 or 5) to this drink, and you’ll be staggered by how much flavor they impart after a day or two in the fridge. It’s a really nice variant.

Garden mint is another optional addition, probably no more than 2 teaspoons finely chopped.

James Norton / Heavy Table

Heavy Table’s Summer Cold Press Lab

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

This story is underwritten by Peace Coffee.

In the last couple of years, baristas in these parts have been getting crazy with the Cheez Whiz. OK, maybe not Cheez Whiz, but in the Twin Cities’ best coffee shops, you can find drinks with additions like fresh herbs, horchata, root beer extract, sriracha, and gin bitters. These unconventional and (generally) tasty concoctions highlight coffee’s versatility — the brewed bean plays surprisingly well with ingredients that seemingly have no business in a cuppa Joe.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

This spirit of experimentation inspired us to organize a cold press lab with the generous underwriting of Peace Coffee. We spent an evening at their roastery unscientifically testing recipes — with the grilling season upon us and the sweltering days of summer just ahead, we decided to focus our energies on the cold stuff.

peace coffee yeti banner

Along with several of our writers and a couple of photographers, our crew included two highly skilled coffee chemists: Jackson O’Brien, head barista at Peace Coffee’s Wonderland location, and Andy Johnson, Peace alum and current barista at Five Watt.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

At the appointed hour, we gathered at Peace Coffee’s new tasting and cupping lab and training room, loaded down with enough ingredients to fill a modestly sized wheelbarrow. Our bounty included everything from marshmallow fluff, savory and sweet herbs, liquid smoke, and sodas from around the world to mango chutney, maple syrup, spicy peppers, an assortment of bitters, and fruit. Yes, it included a durian — a large, roundish, thorny fruit that’s so pungent that at least one country (Singapore) bans it on buses and in public buildings. We procured this wide range of mix-ins because we wanted to explore new (at least to us) flavor and texture combinations — and who doesn’t like slamming a durian on the concrete and stepping on it until the yellowy custard seeps from its thick skin? Great for caffeine-induced aggression!

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

We had but one rule: the drinks had to taste like coffee. This rule was rather easy to follow because we used Peace’s bottled cold press made from a rich, bold blend aptly named yeti. Given our funky ingredients and free-flowing process, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we produced many, many duds … and a very full dump bucket. On the other hand, we really did think pennywort soda (which tastes of freshly mowed lawn and dirt) would blend well with cold press concentrate. We were wrong.

Through trial, a great deal of error, and even more laughter, we developed a solid lineup of drinks. Without further delay, here are the recipes (aka estimations scribbled with shaky hands after consuming way too much caffeine). We very much encourage readers to add in the comments section recipes for their own refreshing summer coffee creations. Each recipe makes one drink.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Huma Cereza
Andy Johnson

This dairy-free concoction tastes of vanilla ice cream, smoked hickory, and chocolate cherries. It brings out the wow!

4 ounces cold press concentrate
2 ounces water
½ ounce vanilla simple syrup
2 drops liquid smoke
2 full droppers cherry-bark bitters
5 drops xocolatl mole bitters
Halved cherries
Ice

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

1. Combine ingredients (except mole bitters and cherries) in shaker. Shake and pour into glass.

2. Place 5 drops of mole bitters on top.

3. Garnish drink with halved cherries, and swirl in froth for added color and flavor.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The Firewalker
Joshua Page

A refreshing, subtly sweet drink with creeping heat. Molasses brings out the tamarind flavor without overpowering the cold press. Orange juice and peel add brightness.

3 ounces cold press concentrate
⅓ fresh habanero pepper
½ bottle Jarritos tamarind soda
1 teaspoon molasses
1 tablespoon orange juice
Orange peel
Ice

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

1. Chop habanero and mix with 3 ounces Jarritos. Let sit for 7 to 10 minutes. Strain out peppers.

2. Mix molasses with 1 ounce Jarritos. Set aside.

3. Combine pepper and molasses mixtures with cold press and orange juice. Pour over ice.

4. Rub orange peel on rim of glass, and add peel to the drink.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The Java Nut
James Norton

The mellow, earthy flavors of roasted coconut and cold press coffee join forces to create a mellow, nutty base. Cardamom-coriander bitters provide pizzazz.

3 ounces roasted coconut juice (available at United Noodles)
3 ounces cold press concentrate
2 ounces half-and-half
3 drops cardamom-coriander bitters
Ice

1. Combine ingredients in a shaker. Shake and pour.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Nashville Slammer
Jackson O’Brien

Basil gives a light and fresh tone to the cold press (they play off each other in much the same way chocolate and mint do). Lime and sparkling water add brightness.

4 ounces cold press concentrate
4 ounces sparkling water
1 tablespoon simple syrup
4 large basil leaves
1 lime wedge
Ice

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

1. Tear basil leaves and muddle with simple syrup until leaves are wilted.

2. Add cold press and sparkling water.

3. Pour mixture over ice; squeeze in lime wedge and stir.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The Holy Hand Grenade
Ted Held

Sweet basil gives the cold press a light, herbal aroma, and the pineapple adds fruitiness and tartness.

3 ounces cold press concentrate
1 tablespoon simple syrup
2 cubes pineapple
2 basil leaves plus 1 sprig
Ice

1. Tear basil leaves, and muddle pineapple with simple syrup.

2. Add cold press and ice.

3. Garnish with a sprig of basil.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Durian Shake
Becca Dilley

The durian and coffee support each other with their earthy notes. Horchata’s dusty-but-sweet flavor melds with and moderates the funky kick of the durian, giving the drink a pleasantly sweet edge. The mint garnish masks the smell of the durian.

2 tablespoons durian (available frozen at United Noodles)
1 ounce cold press concentrate
1 ounce milk
1 tablespoon Klass horchata drink mix
Sprig of mint
Ice

1. Combine ingredients (except mint) in shaker. Shake, and pour into glass.

2. Garnish with mint.

Com Ga Nuong at IndoChin

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Winter calls for heavy fare: rich braised meats enrobed with layered of flavors, creamy soups, and pastry stuffed to the bursting with savory nourishments.

Summer food, by contrast, can’t trundle around — it needs to dance a jig and pull a cartwheel. And while the pho served in Minnesota’s Vietnamese restaurants is a perfect winter warmer, much of the rest of the menu capers into the spotlight when the mercury heads north of 80 … or 85 … or 90, as has so often been the case this year.

One of my personal light-stepping stars of the summer is available at IndoChin. It’s a St. Paul neighborhood establishment located in the sleepy, residential western part of Grand Ave. and owned by sisters Ha Tu and Thu Nguyen (who also own Que Nha). There’s nothing remarkable about the dining room or menu at IndoChin, but the food is lovely — simple, healthy, balanced, low-key and inviting.

The dish is Com Ga Nuong, and menu description is simplicity itself:  C4 BBQ Chicken Over Steamed Rice ($8).

That text is both evocative and deceptively protective of the dish itself: evocative, because there’s really not a lot to look at when the food hits the table, and protective, because by using even such a simple palate, you can create an estival masterpiece.

What you get is a thin, beautifully charred cut of dark-meat chicken served with shredded lettuce, sliced cucumbers, broken white rice, and nuoc cham dipping sauce. Soy and sriracha sit in red containers on your table, and hoisin is available on request. Once you start deploying your various multi-layered / funky / spicy sauces, the tender rice, the cooling veggies, and the rich, slightly unctuous (but not gristly or chewy) charred chicken, you start to realize that the dish isn’t dull, it’s practically limitless.

It’s not an overproduced dish that you’re eventually bored by; it’s a humble dish that you come back to. And that’s enough to help burn through the overheated days between now and the State Fair — and, if there’s a merciful God up there, somewhat cooler weather.

IndoChin Vietnamese Restaurant
Vietnamese on Grand Ave
1702 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105
651.690.2728

HOURS:
Mon-Tue 10am-9pm
Wed CLOSED
Thu-Sun 10am-9pm
OWNERS: Ha Tu and Thu Nguyen
ENTREE RANGE: $8-15
BAR: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes

Pupusas at La Palmera

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

It’s almost summer and what do we want? Ice cream dripping down our arms, hot dogs in our hands, and all kinds of crap fried on sticks. Yeah, we want to hold our food in our hands. Lucky for us, the list of portable snack spots just keeps on growing. A new restaurant, called Pupuseria La Palmera, is now serving that snack without a season, the El Salvadoran pupusa. Similar to the Mexican gordita and the South American arepa, a pupusa is a thick corn tortilla filled with goodies and fried in a pan.

California native Mauricio Prieto opened La Palmera just two weeks ago, in the old Stabby’s Cafe spot across from the Colossal Cafe in Minneapolis. And while his is a sit-down restaurant, the pupusas his El Salvadoran mother, Ana, makes are perfectly palm-sized, and almost cheaper than a pack of gum.

The restaurant’s full menu offers just three varieties of pupusas: bean and cheese ($1.75, top); a combination of pork, cheese, garlic, onion, and peppers called revueltas ($1.75, bottom); and the classic cheese and loroco ($2). Loroco is a green, tropical flower specific to Salvadoran cooking. It gives the pupusa a unique pungency, something like spinach mixed with okra mixed with parmesan cheese. La Palmera’s loroco pupusa is thick, oozing, and earthy. The revueltas is slightly sweet and never too salty, and the bean and cheese version is highly seasoned and would make a satisfying breakfast (which La Palmera serves every day). The restaurant’s accompanying curtido de repollo, a fermented slaw of cabbage and carrots typically served with pupusas, adds a welcome heat and contrasting crunch to the soft masa cakes.

Then there’s the sun-filled dining room in which you’ll enjoy your pupusas. I guess that’s why they call it “the palm tree.”

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Pupuseria La Palmera
El Salvadoran food in South Minneapolis

4157 Cedar Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55407
612.729.2025
HOURS:
Closed Mon
Tues-Thurs 8am-9pm
Fri 8am-9:30pm
Sat 7am-9:30pm
Sun 8am-7:30pm
CHEF / OWNER: Ana Prieto / Mauricio Prieto
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED: No / No
BAR: None
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Limited
ENTREE RANGE: $1.75-$11

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table


Sir Benedict’s in Duluth, MN

Jena Faust / Heavy Table

Having a patio in Duluth is only as good as the view of Lake Superior. A beer or a good sandwich always tastes better when you can watch an ore ship come in or a sail boat race take place. In Duluth a good view of the lake is few and far between. The Fitger’s Brewhouse patio is on the other side, with a view of Superior St., and in Canal Park the patio at Bellisio’s and Little Angie’s has a string of hotels eating up the view. It is Va Bene, Mexico Lindo, and Sir Ben’s that compete for the best patio in Duluth.

Italian at Va Bene and authentic Mexican at Mexico Lindo are both delicious options for enjoying a view of the lake, but Sir Ben’s offers a pub-like atmosphere, affordable food, and a vast beer selection. Over a hundred years ago, like the PortLand Malt Shoppe, the building that is now Sir Ben’s was a gas station. In 1977 the building was opened as Sir Ben’s. Today they offer over 120 different beers alongside a tap beer selection that always has a few local Lake Superior Brewing beers.

The food is soups and sandwiches. Three homemade soups, such as Squash and Lentil, Tomato Basil, and English Onion, are usually available. The English Onion ($3.25 cup, $4.50 bowl) has a sweet taste and oily texture with cubed bread and shredded cheese mixed in.

Jena Faust / Heavy Table

Whole sandwiches ($7.95) and half sandwiches ($4.25) are available on seven grain, white role, sourdough, tomato / spinach wrap or pumpernickel bread. Sandwiches are made to order with up to four veggie and cheese selections included. The specialty sandwiches ($8.95) like the Avocado and Bacon are also made to order with four items included. The bread is cut thick and the ingredients are put on heavy. There isn’t a sandwich made at Sir Ben’s that doesn’t look like a good value.

The operation is counter service with the food made in front of you and paid for before you eat. The simplicity of the restaurant makes Sir Ben’s an easy lunch spot to enjoy the patio and catch the afternoon sun. Music is also available almost every night of the week. During the summer months bands play outside on the patio and through the winter they play on a stage inside. Local acts like Teague Alexy and Toby Churchill are on the calendar alongside jam nights like Celtic jam and Bluegrass jam.

There is never a quiet day or night on the patio of Sir Ben’s in the summer. The old rustic pub like atmosphere, huge beer selection, view of the lake, and live music all make Sir Ben’s a local hangout and a tourist hot spot.

Sir Benedict’s
Homemade food, huge beer selection, and a great patio in Duluth.

805 E Superior St
Duluth, MN 55804
218.728.1192
HOURS:
Daily 11am-1am
OWNERS:
Antonino and Aura Coppola
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED:
No
BAR:
Full

PortLand Malt Shoppe in Duluth, MN

People waiting outside the PortLand Malt Shoppe in Duluth
Jena Faust / Heavy Table

The availability of a real malt has become sporadic. The rise of shakes pushed by fast food chains has all but done away with the traditional malt. Low-calorie fruit smoothies, blended coffee drinks, and intense flavor-driven shakes have become a way of summer for many, helping push the malt to extinction. For those looking for a step back in time, the PortLand Malt Shoppe on the edge of Lake Superior in Duluth still delivers the 1950s-style malt — one that isn’t complete without a cherry on top.

PortLand Malt Shoppe became a malt shop in 1989, and it is in a small brick building that can’t get any larger. The building dates back to the 1920s when it was owned by the Northwestern Oil Co. and used as a gas station. There are only 15 flavors due to the limitations of freezer space.

Ice cream cones, sundaes, frozen yogurt, and floats are all available, but the 16-oz malt ($6.25) makes the line outside the PortLand Malt Shoppe last every day from April 2 to October 17. Malted milk powder, an ingredient and taste that has been left behind in the evolution of frozen drinks, is the driving force in the taste and texture of a malt at the PortLand Malt Shoppe. They’re smooth and easy to pull through a straw, and they leave the gritty texture of the malted milk powder in your mouth.

With Fitger’s Brewhouse next door serving root beer floats with homemade root beer, the PortLand Malt Shoppe differentiates itself by serving a Brown Cow ($3.75): a root beer float with chocolate milk. The Brown Cow has a smoother texture and richer taste than a regular root beer float.

After two decades of malt-making experience and with half of the summer left, it’s likely that the line outside of the PortLand Malt Shoppe will only get longer. While the taste of malt is a rarity among the blended drinks of warm days, the PortLand Malt Shoppe has a malt deserving of a cherry on top.

PortLand Malt Shoppe

716 E Superior St
Duluth, MN 55802
218.723.5281

HOURS:

April 2 to October 17
Daily 11am-11pm

Chocolate Chip Beet Cake

Chocolate Chip Beet Cake
Jill Lewis / Heavy Table

How do you get a 2½-year-old to eat beets? Put them in a cake! (And how do you get the same 2½-year-old to eat fish for dinner? Promise him beet cake for dessert.) If you have a picky eater in your house or are suffering from an overabundance of beets from your CSA subscription this summer, baking up a beet cake is an unexpected but tasty way to incorporate the vegetable into your weekly menu. And even if you like beets when they’re prepared in a more traditional way, you have to admit that a cake — studded with chocolate chips, no less — tops even the most mouth-watering salad any day.

The chocolate won’t completely mask the beets’ flavor. Rather, it complements their natural sweetness while putting this concoction firmly in the dessert category, unlike zucchini bread, which you could classify either as a dessert or a breakfast bread. The original recipe, from Colleen Patrick Goudreau’s The Vegan Table, calls for 2 cups of pureed beets. If, like me, you don’t have enough beets on hand to yield 2 full cups, use applesauce to maintain the proportion of wet ingredients — a balance of 1½ cups beets and ½ cup applesauce lends enough moisture to the cake without diluting the beet flavor.

Summertime Slow-Cooker Recipes

Jill Lewis / Heavy Table

If you’re anything like me, your slow cooker is a regular fixture on your countertop from November through March, churning out hearty stews and thick soups to warm you up on brisk nights. But from April through October, this often-overlooked appliance retreats down to the basement, where, if it had a heart like the Tin Man, it would count down the weeks until Halloween. This begs the question: Why should we miss out on the slow cooker’s most appealing attribute — its convenience — when the thermometer climbs above 60°F?

One could even make the argument that the summertime is the best season to use the slow cooker. It doesn’t heat up the entire kitchen like an oven. Busy schedules packed with baseball games, swimming lessons, and evening bike rides call for easy, no-fuss meals that a slow cooker provides. And some traditional summer favorites, like ribs, benefit from its low-and-slow cooking process.

Determined to break away from the fall-back beef stew and bean soup recipes that are in frequent rotation in our slow cookers during the winter, the Heavy Table set out to find warm-weather-friendly recipes that would entice us to keep the slow cooker out of the box this summer. The first, a simply cooked whole chicken with potatoes and carrots, gets a burst of seasonal flavor with the addition of fresh dill. Next, barbecue lentil sandwiches come into play as an appealing meat-free option for summer parties. Third, fall-off-the-bone ribs that make summer grilling a breeze.

Katie Cannon co-authored this story and the recipes that follow.

Jill Lewis / Heavy Table

Chicken Pot Au Feu
Yield: 5 servings
Adapted from Crock-Pot iPhone app recipe

The original recipe for this classic chicken dish calls only for dried herbs, but tossing in a few sprigs of fresh dill lends a pleasingly light and lemony flavor to the dish that makes it an ideal meal for the warm-weather months. If you don’t have new potatoes on hand, substitute baby yukon golds or fingerlings.

2 medium carrots, cut into ½-inch slices
2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium new potatoes, cut into ¼-inch pieces
3 lbs whole chicken
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground pepper
½ c water
1 tsp dried bay leaves
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
6-8 stalks fresh dill

  1. Place the carrots, celery, and potatoes in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Add the whole chicken and top with the remaining ingredients.
  3. Cover; cook on low 8-10 hours or high 4½-6½ hours.

Summer Orzo Salad

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

With the abundance of fresh vegetables bursting from gardens and CSA shares, it can be challenging to put it all to use. This summery orzo salad is quick to whip up, feeds a group, and is adaptable to the many summery ingredient combinations.

Summer Orzo Salad
Serves 6-8

1 lb orzo pasta, cooked and cooled
1 medium cucumber, sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 c spinach leaves, torn into medium-sized pieces
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
¼ c diced red onion
¼ c kalamata olives
¼ c crumbled feta cheese

Dressing
¾ c extra-virgin olive oil
¼ c lemon juice
¼ c chopped basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk dressing ingredients and toss with salad. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Additional serving suggestions: Add artichoke hearts, chopped chicken breast, or tuna. Substitute red wine vinegar for lemon juice in dressing.