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Autoimmune Protocol Update: So Far, Sooooo Good

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Mar 16, 2014 at 12:17pm

AIP Bacon, Radish, Avocado Lettuce WrapsBacon, Radish & Avocado Lettuce Wraps

I’m still writing Twin Cities Chef’s Table, but I wanted to give a quick update on my Adventures in Autoimmune Protocol. What a learning curve, you guys. I mean, I know a LOT about nutrition, cooking, food, what works for me to eat – in fact, I’m obsessive with all of it – but holy wow. I feel like I stepped through a portal into a new land where things I thought I knew – about food and about myself – have either fallen away or been polished to a high shine. I would label the process so far as: transformative.AIP Flatiron Steak, Roasted/Mashed Parsnips, Upland CressFlatiron Steak, Roasted/Mashed Parsnips, Wild Mushroom Sauce & Upland Cress

Also: delicious. I haven’t had this much fun cooking in a very long time. Each meal is a bit of an adventure, to encourage something new from what at first seems like a very limited number of ingredients. Basically, meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, and fat. But whoa! It’s soooo easy to get in a vegetable rut, it really is ridiculous how we Americans under-utilize the variety in our stores and markets. Meat too. And fish? We are utterly fish illiterate. As a person who needs variety in all things, I’m starting to push & scratch at the surface a bit and honestly, I’ve only just begun. Suffice it to say that I am jazzed to share recipes with you – recipes that even if you don’t give a rat’s you-know-what about autoimmune disease, you will want to dive into.AIP Snack Plate of Sweet Potato Chips, Olives, Radishes, Tonnato“Snack Plate” with Tonnato, Olives, Sweet Potato Chips, Radishes

These pics are snaps off my phone, which I share on Instagram and my Fresh Tart Facebook page as a sort of online food journal, both for myself to remember what I’ve made, and for others to have a sense of how the autoimmune protocol (AIP) doesn’t have to mean boredom and deprivation. There’s a lovely community of us all in the same boat, cheering each other on and trading ideas for perking up meals.AIP Collard Green Wrap with Steak, Wild Mushrooms, Avocado, OnionsCollard Green Wrap with Steak, Mushrooms, Avocado, Lettuce & Onions

I’m just over a month in, by the way, with another month to go. Observations so far (other than falling back in love with cooking and feeling and looking so much better)…

1. What I thought I knew about the ratio of protein/fat/carbohydrates that works best for me was spot on. Over the years, and after MUCH trial and error, I have slowly learned that I look, feel, and perform my best on a higher fat/protein, lower carbohydrate diet. I’ve always eaten a lot of non-starchy vegetables, but I experimented over the last year with adding higher-carbohydrate foods back, mostly due to stress – gluten-free grains like rice, corn, quinoa, as well as baking with rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, and nut flours. Disaster. Food reactions, horrible bloating, weight gain, loss of energy. (Therefore this protocol.) Now that I’m back in my sweet spot – a very whole food/paleo style of eating – I feel GREAT. AIP Batch-Roasted Butternut Squash & BeetsBatch Cooking on the Weekend: Roasted Squash & Beets

2. I thought I would miss drinking bubbles given how much I have always loved them but…I don’t. It reminds me of giving up gluten, which people assume must have been terribly difficult. But when something is making you feel rotten, it’s not that hard to let it go. Wine wasn’t tasting very good to me anymore, and even a small glass was giving me a terrible headache, sometimes almost immediately.AIP Chicken, Bacon, Brussels Sprouts, Mushroom HashChicken, Bacon, Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potato, & Mushroom Hash

3. Ditto coffee. I was finding that two cups had become one cup, and sometimes I wouldn’t even finish that. It just didn’t taste good, it made me queasy, and it made me feel anxious in a way that isn’t normal for me. I used tea to slowly wean myself off caffeine (I can not quit caffeine cold-turkey without triggering a mind-blowing migraine) and now I’m just drinking herbal tea. It turns out, I just like drinking something warm in the morning.AIP Halibut, Shrimp & Bacon SoupFish Soup with Halibut, Shrimp & Bacon

4. I am sleeping like a rock. Like, I do not wake up even once all night long. What a gift! No more joint pain and/or itching from food reactions, no more waking up at 2 am from the stimulating effects of alcohol or caffeine. I’ve used a light box all winter long which I know has helped too, and I make sure to get a walk in sunlight every day, which has not been easy given the temps this winter. Sometimes it’s only for 15 or 20 minutes, but it’s better than nothing. An indoor yoga class is not a substitute for spending time outside. Damn you, Polar Vortex.AIP Chicken Sausage with Roasted Fruit & Maple SyrupChicken Sausage with Roasted Fruit (Grapes, Star Fruit, Kumquats) & Maple Syrup

5. Plants are powerful – in good AND bad ways. The things I react to are plants, both inside my body and on my skin, a good reminder that most plants don’t want to be consumed. They possess intricate and powerful anti-nutrients, that humans have learned to work around with food preparation and cooking, that should not be underestimated. Grains in particular can wreak havoc on digestive systems, but I have gotten some pretty stern reminders from sunflower oil (angry red bumps on my skin), dandelion root (crushing headache), beet greens (stinging lips), chamomile (instant sneezing/congestion), and strawberries (itchy eyes/scalp) that plants deserve respect. I’m not going to stop eating them, of course, I love vegetables and fruits more than I love anything else, but I am certainly paying attention to those that slap and sting me and I will respectfully leave them alone.

If you’re looking for good nutrition reads – pretty sexy, right?! – I highly recommend Death by Food Pyramid : How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health by Denise Minger. I can hardly put it down it’s so good – seriously. Minger is the master of deconstructing and explaining nutrition studies and her book will blow your mind. Not to mention, she’s hilarious and her writing is snappy and fresh.

And I don’t know about you, but now that I have my food choices on track, and (despite sleet/snow today) now that temps are becoming sort of survivable, I’m ready to bust some new moves. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a HUGE fan of the website Mark’s Daily Apple. I’ve had to dig deeper into this style of eating – aka Primal (a version of paleo) to suss out nagging food sensitivities, but this format is primarily how I reclaimed my health when I stopped eating gluten in 2010 (almost 4 years ago!). It takes a bit of experimentation to find the right balance of carbohydrates – everyone is different – but taking a break from grains, legumes, and dairy while focusing on good fats, high quality protein, and a rainbow of vegetables and fruits means dropped weight, consistent appetite, clear skin, and a surge of energy. Right now is NOT the official 21 Day Challenge – I believe it happens in September – but that’s OK, I want to do it right now. I’ll be re-focusing particularly on the excellent workout plan, which I am WAY out of following right now. Lord. It has been a long winter. As I said I’ve been walking whenever I can, but I’ve been less than impressive in “lifting heavy things” and sprinting. I’m calling today Day 1, woo hoo! The chart below is a good overview of the Challenge, but definitely click through to the whole (addictive) website for more information about eating real food, getting the most benefit from short workouts, and living a vibrant life. Good things.

The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge
Yes, I’m Still Managing to Have Dinner Parties!

I’ll be back soon with recipes – a puree of romanesco soup with beef-kale meatballs I made a few weeks ago was particularly a winner – but until then, Happy Almost Spring! How great was it to walk on an actual sidewalk this week? I was giddy, tralalaaah!

Plantain Tortillas (AIP, Grain-free, Gluten-free, Paleo, Vegan, Delicious)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Feb 18, 2014 at 12:10pm

Plantain Tortillas | Fresh TartHi! I’m still here! I’m still working on Twin Cities Chef’s Table, which has meant no blogging for me. Because I didn’t have enough going on – writing a book, getting a divorce, dealing with this seriously fucked up winter – I also decided to spend the next 60 days on the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) which is in effect an elimination diet to weed out food sensitivities. Long story short: It’s not just gluten, baby. With the stress of above, other food sensitivities that I’ve suspected all along but kind of gotten away with are no longer cooperating with me. Also, I took the opportunity of seclusion and cooking only for myself to undertake an experiment, adding a few things back into my diet that I had avoided when I gave up gluten almost 4 years ago – time flies! – namely corn, rice, potatoes, dairy, some starches like tapioca and arrowroot starch. My body said: HELL NO, STEPHANIE. Bloating, abdominal pain, joint pain, puffy eyes, fatigue, hair loss, low body temperature, basically all the inflammation/hypothyroid symptoms I had before I gave up gluten.

Scary and disappointing.Plantain Tortillas | Fresh TartAnd so, back to the drawing board. I’d been meaning to do it eventually anyhow. I really, really want to know the foods that cause damage to my gut and my immune system to attack my thyroid. Rebirth is the order of the day. Spring will be upon us soon enough and I’m ready to be my rock-n-roll self again, even if it means eliminating for the next several weeks:

All grains & grain-like substances (including chia, hemp, millet, oats, etc.)
All nuts, seeds, and their oils
Nightshade plants (potatoes, tomatoes, chiles/peppers, eggplants)
Legumes
Eggs
Dairy
Yeast
Alcohol
Coffee
Sugar

Yup. I made the commitment to myself last week, cried for about 20 minutes, made a grocery list, and hit the store. I can totally do this. It’s not even that far off from how I already eat. And in fact, it’s totally spurred my creativity – helped by the fact that I feel so much better already, now that I’ve gotten past two days of coffee fog. Also: immediately glowing skin. It really is so powerful what eating a nutrient-dense (and inflammation-free, because I’ve eaten a nutrient-dense diet for years) diet does for skin. I also credit adding bone broths to my routine a few months ago – eat collagen to make collagen. I definitely see the difference.

I’m not going to over-exaggerate, eating this way is not simple. First of all, it requires a lot of prep and cooking, which I enjoy thoroughly, but I know many don’t. Also, I’m feeding one or two people, none of whom are picky and small. The biggest loss for me, given my lifestyle and career, is eating out. All restaurants cook with canola oil, which I wish they didn’t because it’s terrible for everyone, but it’s cheap and vegetarian, so there it is. Also, if you think about it for a minute, almost all seasoning involves nightshades or seeds: chiles, cumin, caraway, coriander, on and on.

Please follow me on Instagram or follow Fresh Tart’s Facebook page (links on the right) for the daily meals I’ve been rather merrily preparing for myself. At the end of the 60 days, I’ll reintroduce the eliminated foods one by one, one week at a time, and gauge my reaction to them. And then I’ll know. Once and for all. I might be sad to know, but it’s better than suffering ill health.

If you’re interested in the protocol yourself, please read everything on The Paleo Mom’s amazing website and buy her new book, The Paleo Approach, which will explain the scientific, food-related causes of autoimmune disease and how to address it. Plantain Tortillas | Fresh TartAnd in the interim, Paleo Tortillas! I first made The Paleo Mom’s plantain crackers, because having something salty/crunchy to snack on was the first loss I really felt. They are fantastic. Then I started poking around for plantain “bread” of some sort and came upon a modified version of the crackers, turned into a pizza crust. I thought, I’d bet this process would make killer tortilla/wraps so I played around with the recipe I found on the blog Simple & Merry and tada! Absolutely delicious. Soft, chewy, mildly sweet, wonderful stuffed with beef, avocado, and a zippy garnish of lime and cabbage. I’m totally making fish tacos with these – plantains and fish are marvelous together. And as I mention below, I can imagine leaving out the garlic and serving these filled with berries and a drizzle of coconut cream, mmm. Plantains…who knew? (I know, millions of people, just not native Midwesterners, ha.) See what you think.

Plantain Tortillas (AIP, Grain-free, Gluten-free, Paleo, Vegan)
Adapted from a pizza crust recipe on Simple & Merry
Makes 12 tortillas

1 pound peeled, cubed large green plantains (I’ve found they can be at various stages of ripeness, anywhere from bright green to yellow-ish; I suspect super-ripe/blackened plantains would be delicious if you left out the garlic and ate them with warm fruit for breakfast or dessert)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup avocado oil (or extra-virgin olive oil; avocado oil is more neutral tasting and takes high heat better)
water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange racks in the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Add ingredients to the bowl of a blender (a Vitamix is wonderful for making these). Add 1/3 cup of water to the blender, cover, and puree on lowest setting for a minute or two. Gradually turn speed up, adding a bit more water if needed, to form a thick, smooth puree, similar to smooth hummus.

With a spoon, smooth batter into 12 equal tortillas onto the two baking sheets, approximately 1/4-inch thick and 6 inches across. Bake for 10 minutes, switch racks, and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until puffed and browning in spots.

Cool for 5 minutes before serving. Or, cool to room temperature and store in airtight container for up to 3 days. Can be gently reheated before serving.

Happy 8th Birthday Fresh Tart + Twin Cities Chef’s Table: Part II

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jan 8, 2014 at 6:44pm

burgerI am all book (Twin Cities Chef’s Table), all the time right now, which is why I haven’t shared a recipe for a few weeks. I hope you did something wonderful to ring in 2014! CocktailI’m having the time of my life visiting restaurants, chatting with chefs, taking pictures, talking about food, gathering recipes, and writing stories. I am being wonderfully, ably assisted by Angie Zirngible, who is helping in 100 different ways. Joy Summers has assisted on several shoots, making chefs laugh so I can snap pics of them with smiles on their faces (while I also laugh).

And my Ladies League – #L2 – ladies, are saving me by helping me gather paperwork and offering to stop by with treats and bubbles to keep me sane! In fact, they stopped by to serenade me with Christmas carols just before New Year’s Eve and it made my whole holiday. patestir fryMy birthday (and Fresh Tart’s birthday!) was this past Monday, the coldest day of the year, when no one went anywhere. I stayed warm and cozy in The Treehouse, and was gifted a beautiful and scrumptious (gluten-free) apple-coconut cake and bottle of Veuve Cliquot by the always lovely and generous Zoe Francois. It made my birthday!cocktail

Because I’m not sharing a recipe, I’m posting a few sneak peaks of food pics from the book. I’m so excited for you to make these recipes! From casual to formal, from condiments to cocktails to main dishes to desserts, the book is first and foremost a cookbook for home cooks.lamb

Here’s to an amazing year, full of good friends, good work, good health, and good food. Thank you for reading Fresh Tart! Muah! xoxoxo Stephanie

Winter Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter & Sage (gluten-free, grain-free)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Dec 11, 2013 at 9:20pm

Winter Squash Gnocchi (gluten-free, grain-free) | Fresh Tart‘Tis the season for comfort food, I say, what with frozen pipes, spin outs, wipe outs, and frost bite. When it’s this cold outside, baby, head thee to the kitchen and boil a pot of  water to warm your frozen soul. And to cook these chewy, tender pillows of cheer, bathed in brown butter, topped with crispy sage, and gluten-free to boot.Winter Squash Gnocchi with Browned Butter & Sage (gluten-free, grain-free) | Fresh TartInstead of wheat flour, the binder here is potato starch. It works beautifully! The recipe includes all sorts of instructions for working ahead, but I cooked the gnocchi pictured right after cutting them and they were fantastic. Then again, making a batch on the weekend is a sweet way to come home to a quick dinner of gnocchi on a week night.

Recipe for Winter Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter & Sage at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Fudgiest Brownies (Gluten-Free)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Dec 3, 2013 at 11:47am

Fudgy Browndies (Gluten-Free) | Fresh TartThe beauty of Alice Medrich’s fabulously decadent cocoa brownie recipe is that flour plays such a minor role in flavor and texture, that it matters not a whit what type you use. Use wheat flour, as the recipe was originally written, and you’ll be thrilled. Or, substitute gluten-free AP flour and be equally thrilled, because by my memory, they taste exactly the same. That’s because these brownies are about good cocoa, butter, and eggs, melted and stirred and whisked in just such a way (in one bowl, no less!) to deliver a shiny, crusty top with a fudgy (not cakey) interior.Fudgiest Brownies (Gluten-Free) | Fresh TartI’ll even go so far as to say that I think you could make these grain-free, by using tapioca starch or potato starch as the flour. I haven’t done it yet, but I will, and I’ll let you know how they turn out. I suspect: mighty damn fine.

No matter how you bind them, these are brownies that beg for a glass of milk, particularly restorative after holiday shopping, gift-wrapping, or tree-trimming. Not that those things aren’t fun, it’s just that…chocolate makes them more fun.

Heh.

Recipe for Fudgiest Brownies (Gluten-Free) at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Nathan and I spent the Thanksgiving holiday weekend at my dad and stepmom Susanna’s home south of Bozeman, Montana. My sister Stacey and her son Cooper were there too, as well as my brother David and sister Etta, both in from NYC. We had a long, restorative weekend catching up, cooking, hiking, and relaxing. Just what the doctor ordered for all of us!Jake | Fresh TartDad picked us all up at the airport, with Jake in tow. He makes an adorable front-seat companion.Sun West Ranch | Fresh TartSo good to pull up to this view. I hadn’t been in a year and a half, too long.Against All Grain Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies | Fresh TartWe were very, very happily greeted by Against All Grain paleo chocolate chip cookies, made by Susanna and Etta. These are winners of the highest order. Make them. Gah so good.Sun West Ranch | Fresh TartI’ve never been to the house in the winter…so lovely to see the setting sun against the snow-capped Madison range. Hi Etta!Gluten-Free Waffles with Chokecherry Syrup | Fresh TartMy dad made gluten-free waffles with Pamela’s mix/recipe. Perfection. That’s chokecherry syrup, made by Susanna from chokecherries she picked this summer at the ranch. Absolutely delicious. DuJour Magazine | Fresh TartI was delighted to page through the latest issue of DuJour Magazine while I ate breakfast, sipped coffee. My sister Etta is the photo editor. Seriously, how stunning is that cover?!Sun West Ranch | Fresh TartThere was pre-feast hiking and sledding. Lovely in every way.Sun West Ranch Sledding | Fresh TartGo Susanna! Sun West Ranch Sledding | Fresh TartGo Nathan and Coop!Thanksgiving Table | Fresh TartMy sister Stacey set a gorgeous table.Turkey! | Fresh TartSusanna’s sister Margie made a perfect, deconstructed turkey, all juicy, all crispy.Thanksgiving Sides | Fresh TartThe rest of the meal: roasted squash, gluten-free and gluten-full gravies, gluten-free sausage chestnut dressing, green beans with lemon-garlic butter & walnuts, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Colorful, flavorful, not over-the-top rich. In my book: perfection. Charlie (the pup) agreed.Pumpkin Cheesecake | Fresh TartMargie also made my aunt Marge’s pumpkin cheesecake with caramel sauce. There was oohing, aahing, sighing, groaning, and the licking of forks and perhaps even plates.Leftovers | Fresh TartLeftovers Part I was breakfast the next day: fried stuffing topped with green beans and…a poached egg, of course. Killah.Sun West Ranch | Fresh TartSun West Ranch | Fresh TartWe attempted to offset gluttony with another good, long hike, which even included crossing a creek on a fallen log. I wish it were as hard as it looked…but it was actually pretty easy. My brother David makes it look badass, however.

The rest of the meals? I stopped taking pictures, which means I relaxed into my vacation, and that was…so unbelievably nice. Home now, which feels lovely too, jamming on Twin Cites Chef’s Table. I spent the day writing and cooking, filling my fridge with roasted beets and squash, kale chips, hard-cooked eggs, grassfed beef bone broth, jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk, and braised beef short ribs. I’m stocking up for the cold, snowy, insanely busy days ahead, days when I want to eat fresh, nutritious, delicious meals on the fly.

The view out the window at home today:Snow | Fresh TartHey winter. Hey.

Spiced Fresh Cranberry Relish Mold

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Nov 26, 2013 at 1:12pm

Spiced Fresh Cranberry MoldPoor cranberries. No one really ever eats them, despite tradition, even when made from scratch. I think it’s because Americans are unaccustomed to the delights of chutney-eque condiments. Which is a shame, given the palate-cleansing powers of a tangy, acidic punch on a plate of buttery, rich foods.Spiced Fresh Cranberry Mold | Fresh TartThis recipe is as old school as I possess. My mom’s been surprising guests with her famous cranberry relish mold forever. Why surprising? Well, much like my mom, it’s got a spicy kick that sneaks up on you, in this case a surprising zing of horseradish that eliminates all worries of cloying sweetness. Think mostarda and you’ll have exactly the right idea.Spiced Fresh Cranberry Mold | Fresh TartAs a bonus, the mold is stunning on a holiday buffet table. My mom’s original recipe calls for raspberry Jello and canned cranberries, so I reworked it a bit to include fresh cranberries and fruit juice. The end result has more texture, and a fresher taste, without losing the surprising spicy kick. Pretty perfect, I think.

I hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving!

Recipe for Spiced Fresh Cranberry Relish Mold at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Teff & Oat Flour Yogurt Pancakes (gluten-free)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Nov 19, 2013 at 3:04pm

Teff & Oat Flour Yogurt Pancakes | Fresh Tart (gluten-free)Some of the tastiest gluten-free baked items I’ve sampled include teff flour, so I finally picked up a bag a last week (at The Wedge) and started playing around with it here at home. My first attempt was popovers, which I renamed as pffffts. Quite delicious, but flat as pancakes.Teff & Oat Flour Yogurt Pancakes | Fresh Tart (gluten-free)So next I tried pancakes! Given teff’s soft texture, I had suspected for awhile it would make lovely pancakes and it indeed does. I borrowed a little pancake magic from my favorite Orange Yogurt Pancakes recipe and created a tender, fluffy, wonderfully flavorful stack. If you’ve got gluten-free (or not!) guests headed your way for the Thanksgiving holiday, these would make a terrific breakfast. Alongside bacon of course, with plenty of hot coffee (or tea). You can’t tell, but there are blueberries scattered into them as well. I thought blueberries were a pancake abomination when I was a kid, but man, nowadays I consider their warm juiciness essential.

Recipe for Teff & Oat Flour Yogurt Pancakes at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Kimchi Fried Rice

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Nov 12, 2013 at 4:24pm

Kimchi Fried Rice | Fresh TartLet me introduce you to your new late night (or morning after?) go-to dish. You can’t argue with the restorative powers of kimchi – spicy fermented vegetables – especially when tossed with rice, sesame oil, and spicy chili paste. Go for Korean gochujang because it’s incredible (spicy-sweet with just a hint of funky, in the best possible way), or reach for sriracha because you’re already addicted and stocked up. I add tamari, which is not traditional, but the mellow saltiness plays so nicely with tangy kimchi. This is fusion cooking the way it’s meant to be – fast, flavorful, and plucking all of your favorite notes, preferably straight from your fridge.Kimchi Fried Rice | Fresh TartThere are lots of options here – skip the pork and egg for a vegan dish. Skip just the pork for a vegetarian dish. It’s also not traditional, but if you skip the pork, coconut oil is a lovely addition, and so nourishing that I’m always trying to find tasty places to sneak it in.Fulton Beer | Fresh TartI got the idea for this dish last week, while chatting with Brian Hoffman of Fulton Beer. The whole Fulton gang hosted a little gathering at their newly-leased, currently-under-construction production facility. Because I can’t actually drink their beer (gluten), I held a pint of the evening’s brew and smelled it, touched my lips to it, and basically tortured myself while chatting with Brian about all of the beautiful, spicy foods that would be marvelous with such a hoppy, fruity, fragrant beer.

Sigh. Fulton Beer | Fresh TartI distracted myself from self-pity by enjoying the crew’s signature hospitality. Every time we get together I’m impressed all over again by the four couples’ collective friendship, talent, good humor, good taste, enthusiasm, and charm. What can I say? I adore them all, even though I can’t drink their beer. I was giddy on their behalf, scanning the abyss that is their new Northeast Minneapolis facility (for the moment called AFB, as in Another Fulton Brewery), imagining the shiny new tanks and thousands of bottles of deliciousness that will be leaving through the giant loading dock by late 2014, making its way into your belly but not mine. (Worry not, tasting room fans, the original North Loop Fulton brewery – aka 414 – remains in operation.)

That’s a long way of saying that Brian suggests, “With the fried rice, I would go with The Ringer or Batch 300. As we talked about, hoppy and spicy are a match made in heaven, and both of these beers deliver on that note. Both are also light enough in malt character and body to not overpower the kimchi, rice, or the egg.” So there you go. Fulton forth and tell me how much you enjoyed it so I can live vicariously through you.

Recipe for Kimchi Fried Rice at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Nov 11, 2013 at 4:26pm

Salisbury Steak | Fresh TartWhen my sister Stacey and I were little girls in Lakefield, Minnesota, Friday nights were pretty special. Our beautiful mom would get dressed up, with glamorous make-up, hair, and perfume, and she and our dad would head out for a supper club dinner. The next morning they would tell us stories about how “Splash” the waiter could flawlessly pour water back-handed from several feet away and how the Chateaubriand they shared was butter-knife tender. I loved all of it, including the handful of cool-girl babysitters who would shower us with attention and make us TV dinners. I didn’t want to admit it, but the only one I really liked was the Salisbury steak dinner (although I used to cross my fingers there would be no stray peas in the apple cobbler). I felt like a grown-up eating “steak” plus I loved the smooth mashed potatoes and salty gravy.Salisbury Steak | Fresh TartI skip the packaged dinners these days, opting to make Salisbury steak from scratch, from wholesome ingredients, blowing the peas off the frozen version, as it were. This is kid food, and grandparents food, and hungry teen food all wrapped up in one nostalgic dish, making it the perfect comfort food dinner. As a bonus: it’s a one-skillet superstar, prepared on the stove top, and ready in less than an hour.

If your kids don’t like mushrooms? Skip them. To keep the dish gluten-free, use GF bread (I did, worked like a charm). You could easily make the dish grain-free as well: skip the bread and milk, and thicken the gravy with a bit of tapioca starch instead of cornstarch. I stir a few spoonfuls of fermented sauerkraut into the finished pan sauce – seriously good, give it a go. However you opt to customize, serve over mashed potatoes, boiled egg noodles, or hearty toast; or skip the starch and snuggle the steaks up next to roasted Brussels, cauliflower, or broccoli. #XElab

Don’t forget that if you have your own favorite comfort food recipe, click through to #XElab’s Facebook page and share it! Not only might you win a $250 gift certificate to Home Depot, but your recipe will be featured on the #XElab page alongside other comfort food recipes. Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy | Fresh TartStay warm, friends!

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy
Serves 6

4 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 large onion, sliced thin
salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 slices bread, processed into coarse bread crumbs
1/3 c. whole milk
1 large egg
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
few gratings of fresh nutmeg
few dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 lbs. meatloaf mix (ground beef and pork)
4 oz. button mushrooms, sliced thin
2 c. beef broth
2 Tbsp. cornstarch

mashed potatoes, egg noodles, rice, or hearty toast for serving

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter. Add the onions and a pinch of salt to the pan and saute, stirring frequently, until onions wilt and then slowly brown. Continue sauteing the onions until very soft and deeply browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer onions to a small bowl; set skillet aside while you mix and form the steaks.

While the onions brown, add bread crumbs to a large bowl. Cover with milk and let soak for 5 minutes. Whisk in the egg, garlic, thyme, nutmeg, and Worcestershire sauce. When the onions are done, add half of them to the mixture (reserve the other half for the gravy, below). Add the ground beef/pork to the bowl, sprinkle with 2 tsp. of salt and several grinds of black pepper, and use your hands to gently combine. Form the mixture into 6 oblong patties.

Return skillet to medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp. of butter and when melted and hot, fry 3 of the steaks until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes/side. Transfer steaks to a warm platter and fry the remaining steaks. Keep steaks warm while you make the gravy.

If there’s not much fat in the pan, add 1 Tbsp. of butter and when melted, add the mushrooms along with a generous pinch of salt. Saute the mushrooms, stirring up browned bits, until wilted and lightly browned.

In a medium bowl, whisk the cornstarch and beef broth together until there are no lumps, then slowly whisk the broth mixture into the mushrooms. Stir the gravy until hot, clear, and thickened. Add the remaining caramelized onions to the gravy. Season gravy to taste with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Spoon hot gravy over steaks and serve immediately.

Chicken Broth

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Nov 7, 2013 at 6:21pm

Chicken Broth | Fresh TartHere, in this jar, is the pure gold otherwise known as chicken broth. Utterly delicious yes, but equally as important – soothing. Healing. Not just to my soul, but to my sometimes bitchy digestive system. When I accidentally eat gluten, or hit a non-gluten grain too hard, I had might as well pull out my maternity clothes because seriously, I look l like a full-term Nathan 2.0 is about to arrive. I hate when it happens, and I try mightily to prevent it, but…so it goes in the world of food. The remedy? A mug full of hot chicken broth, made from fresh chicken. Ahhhhhhh, heaven.

It’s gotten to the point that I feel a bit anxious when I’m running low. I keep several containers in my freezer, ready to sip on its own (a perfect snack), or to turn into the best fast soups on the planet (more on that later this week). Chicken broth in a box is so ineffectively limp in comparison, and the real deal is so ding dang easy to make and freeze, that it just doesn’t make sense to be without it.A Chicken Soup Supper | Fresh TartI can’t post about a good, rich chicken broth without reminding you of this cozy M.F.K. Fisher recipe for A Chicken Soup Supper, one of my very favorite dishes.Chicken Broth | Fresh TartThis is more of a process than a recipe:

Chicken Broth

First and foremost, buy seriously good chicken. This elixir is only as healthy and healing as the ingredients you put into it, so spring for a farmers market or co-op chicken, a free-range, hormone-free, locally raised gem (’round these parts, Kadejan, Callister, etc.). Sometimes I buy a whole chicken, sometimes I buy a combo of wings, thighs, and legs, around 3-5 pounds.

Get ready to release some aggression. Set out a large stockpot (or crock pot; notes below). Grab a cleaver, and a large cutting board. Lay the chicken pieces (or whole bird) on the cutting board and start hacking with your cleaver. Like, stand back, make sure no human body parts are anywhere near, and thwack! Hack into the bones in several places, perhaps even through the bones. Toss the hacked pieces into the stock pot as you go. When you’re done, pour about 1/2 cup of white wine into the pot, then add filtered water to cover the chicken pieces by one inch. Add 1 teaspoon or so of dried thyme. Add a bay leaf or two. Add one small, quartered onion as well as three cloves of smashed garlic. Add 3 teaspoons of sea salt.

Set the stock pot over medium-low heat. Bring to a slow, slow simmer, NOT a boil. Do not cover. It will take awhile to come to a simmer, which is great, because you can wash a few dishes, sweep the floor, sip a glass of wine, do some work, or watch a movie while you wait. Check the broth every once in a while. When it’s slowly simmering, turn the heat to low, and let the broth barely simmer for up to 3 hours, skimming occasionally without stirring.

Remove from heat and set aside until cool enough to handle. Line a colander with several layers of cheese cloth and strain warm broth into a large bowl. Discard chicken, bones, and vegetables. I taste for salt and add it at this point, but you can leave it as is and adjust seasoning as you cook with it – your call. Cool broth to room temperature and transfer to storage container(s). I usually transfer to 4 containers, make soup with one, and freeze the other three. Fat will rise to the top, which you can leave in place (for richer broth), or remove when solid and chilled. Up to you.

If you use a crock pot, follow the directions above except add all the ingredients to a large slow cooker and set on low. I like to set it up before I go to bed and let it simmer overnight, for up to 10 hours. I cool and strain the broth in the morning. Crock pot chicken broth is lovely, nice and clear, because it never boils.