Cook. Nourish. Heal. Celebrate.

Posts tagged as christmas

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Oct 22, 2013 at 7:38pm

Brussels Sprouts Gratin | Fresh TartI’m always trying to find things to douse in Cedar Summit cream, because let’s face it, I’m obsessed with the gloriously grass-fed stuff. Given a giant bag of darling little baby Brussels from the farmers market, and a hankering for my fave cauliflower gratin, I present the easiest, coziest Brussels dish in the world. I have a vision of setting this on a holiday table (particularly next to a roast beast), nestled among candles and pine boughs…although until the holidays roll around, I simply made it my dinner, with toast and a glass of wine.

Note: I am thoroughly enjoying the occasional slice of St. Paul’s own Thuro Sourdough Gluten-Free Teff bread. The Thuro folks have no idea who I am, I just happened to pick up a loaf in the freezer at The Wedge, in my quest for tasty GF breads made without weird fillers and nasty vegetables oils, which is no easy task. It’s seriously sour, which I love, and makes a flavorful, chewy piece of toast, toast that in fact makes me pine – again – for dearly departed, grass-fed Pastureland butter, which used to be made from Cedar Summit Cream.

Obsessed, I tell you.Brussels Sprouts Gratin | Fresh TartAnd another note: I recently devoured the book Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food by Catherine Shanahan, MD. I understand completely if you are not in the mood for yet another book about nutrition but…I still think you should read it, especially if you’re considering a pregnancy. I found myself reading several passages aloud to Puppy Louis, who now knows more about genetics than the average fluffy pup. I also found myself snapping iPhone pics of pages off my Kindle, for a potentially annoying way of sharing passages that blew my mind. Dr. Shanahan describes what she calls The Four Pillars of traditional diets around the world, the ways of eating that have produced the genetically healthiest people over millenia: meat cooked on the bone, a combination of raw and cooked plants, offal/organ meats, and fermented foods. She makes a strong case for avoiding vegetable oils and sugar in particular – a very strong case. Dr. Shanahan recently revamped the training diet of the injury-plagued LA Lakers and has helped several players heal nagging injuries. Good stuff.

Recipe for Brussels Sprouts Gratin at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Mushroom Soup with Chicken, Broccoli & Pumpkin Seeds

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jan 5, 2013 at 10:36am

Mushroom Soup with Chicken, Broccoli & Pumpkin Seeds

Happy New Year! It’s time for vegetables! I know that I don’t really need to explain why, given universal post-holiday puffiness and such. For me, all sorts of high-carbohydrate, gluten-free grainy flours made their way into my diet and while festive, I certainly noticed how 1) tired, and 2) starving it all made me feel.  Sometimes it takes little reminders that what works best – and for me that’s not just gluten-free, but primarily grain-free eating – is exactly what works best. Hey.

As a bonus, all of the foods that make me feel and look like myself – high quality meats, fish, vegetables, eggs, nuts, fats, and small amounts of dairy and fruit – are all of my favorite foods anyhow.

So 2013, let’s lead off with soup! I’ll confess I didn’t plan this one out, it sort of made itself out of the fridge. I’m quite sure that you could use vegetable broth, and skip the chicken, and enjoy this as a vegetarian treat. Dried porcini mushrooms make the broth – and everything – delectably meaty, for very little effort. When you’re making up a soup, keep in mind that the most satisfying soups are texturally layered – this version is brimming with tender chicken, chewy mushrooms, crisp broccoli, with crunchy nuts to finish. That’s how I like it! Kablam!

I hope you all enjoyed holiday time with family and friends. We hosted Christmas Eve here with my mom and sister Stacey. Escargot, beef stroganoff, braised cabbage with caraway seeds, and baked lemon pudding made up our holiday feast and uff da, it was indeed a feast.

Christmas Day we made our annual trip out to my aunt Mary & uncle Bruce’s lovely farm west of Willmar. More beef – rib roast, yes! – snuggled up against mashed potatoes, beets, Brussels sprouts salad, topped off with my aunt Marge’s famous cheesecake for dessert. More uff da. So worth it. So much sparkly, cozy fun!

I’d say the tree is put away and everything is back in its usual place, but…hell no. We also hosted a New Year’s Eve party, and my birthday is tomorrow, so sometime this coming week will have to do. In the meantime, here’s to a delicious and healthy 2013! Fresh Tart turns 7 years old tomorrow, pretty crazy, thank you so much for reading along with me for all these years!

xo Stephanie

Mushroom Soup with Chicken, Broccoli & Pumpkin Seeds
Serves 4

I’ll confess that I gilded the lily by adding fried sage leaves as a garnish along with the pumpkin seeds and mushrooms. Totally not necessary, but if you’re as crazy about fried sage as I am, fry it in the butter you toast the pumpkin seeds in (sage leaves first, remove them, add the pumpkin seeds, toast away) until a little bit browned. Killer.

1 c. + 1 quart chicken broth
1-6 oz. package dried porcini mushrooms
5 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled & chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
sea salt
1/2 c. heavy cream (optional)
handful arugula leaves (optional)
1 c. broccoli florets
1 c. bite-size chicken pieces (I pulled apart a rotisserie chicken)
1/2 c. raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
freshly ground black pepper

In a small saucepan, heat 1 c. chicken broth until steaming. Remove from heat and stir in porcini mushrooms. Soak for 30 minutes until mushrooms are soft. Scoop mushrooms from broth with your hands, squeezing liquid back into the pan. Chop mushrooms and set aside. Strain broth through a coffee filter into a small bowl and reserve.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp. of the butter over medium heat until melted and foaming. Str in onion, carrot, celery, garlic, dried thyme, and a pinch of salt. Stirring occasionally, saute vegetables until beginning to soften, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the reserved mushroom soaking liquid and quart of chicken broth. Simmer broth and vegetables until vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes.

While soup simmers, in a small skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. butter over medium heat until melted and foaming. Stir in pumpkin seeds and toast seeds, stirring frequently, until seeds are golden brown. Transfer seeds to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle lightly with salt. Set aside.

Add remaining 2 Tbsp. butter to skillet and return to medium heat. Add the chopped porcini mushrooms and a pinch of salt and saute until starting to crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a blender, puree vegetables and stock in batches with arugula leaves (if using), returning pureed soup to the saucepan.

Heat the pureed soup over medium heat until simmering. Add broccoli and cook for 5 minutes, until broccoli is tender-crisp. Stir in cream (if using) and chicken and heat for a couple of minutes. Season to taste with salt. Serve hot with toasted pumpkin seeds and sauteed porcini mushrooms, topped with several grinds of black pepper.

Magical Boozy Eggnog

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Dec 11, 2012 at 6:51pm

Fabulously Boozy Eggnog

As a kid, I loved eggnog so much I could down a carton all by myself. I thought it was truly insane that anyone would blemish its creamy dreamy nutmeginess with stupid booze. Do not mess with perfection!

I no longer feel that way. I read this recipe in the December/January issue of (the fabulous!) Garden & Gun Magazine and it jumped right out at me 1) because the accompanying article is fantastic, and 2) because THIS is recipe writing: decadent, hysterical, and easy to follow.

Magical Boozy Eggnog

So if you too are charmed by the idea of a blast of bourbon in your eggnog, this recipe is for you. Two sips in, my tree sparkled magically, my family looked perfect, and The Little Drummer Boy didn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out. Suffice it to say this is a bracing ratio of bourbon to cream, so depending on the tolerance of your guests, adjust accordingly. (I think you could start with half the recommended bourbon and add more to taste. Kablam.)


Recipe for World’s Greatest Eggnog via Julia Reed, Garden & Gun Magazine at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.


Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:03pm


It actually hurt me a little bit to bake a pan of popovers for the photo. I don’t miss many things since giving up gluten – mostly good beer, honestly – but oh, popovers! Truly the world’s most perfect butter delivery vehicle, soft and eggy, steamy and crusty, marvelously ragged with melted-butter-pooling crevices. In college, I would make myself a batch of twelve, eat eight hot out of the pan – with soft butter – then save four to fry the next morning – in melted butter.

I long for those days.

Make a gluten-free batch, you say? I’ve tried. They’re fine but not holy, not like real popovers, so I’m trying to make my peace with remembering how they taste. I was home alone with the batch pictured, so I just smelled them, watched them cool, put them away, and fried them in butter for my son the next morning to eat with maple syrup.


If you’re not as maniacal about butter as I am, keep in mind that popovers are phenomenal with roast beef, particularly beefy pan drippings. If you make a lovely roast for the holidays, use a bit of fat from the pan to grease the muffin tin and call them Yorkshire puddings.

Recipe for Popovers at Dara & Co./Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Almond & Orange Cake with Poached Plum Compote

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Dec 7, 2011 at 11:16am

almond organge cake w plum compote

Given lusty poached plums and a hint of orange, this cake would be stunning on the Christmas table.

Recipe for Almond & Orange Cake with Poached Plum Compote at Food & Wine Magazine/Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures.

Yet Even More In Progress…

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Dec 24, 2010 at 11:43am

The table is set.

The Alice Medrich chocolate souffles – not too rich, nicely chocolatey – are ready for the oven.  They’re both gluten-free and do-ahead.  If they washed dishes, they’d be perfect.  (That giant one in the back is for John!)

Cauliflower is blanched.  It still needs a coating of breadcrumbs, then it will be ready for the fryer we fondly call “fondue.”  (Recipes for fondues and sauces are here.)

It’s kind of crazy how perfectly Christmas-y all this snow is!  After Christmas, it’s just…a lot of snow.  But for now, it’s lovely.


Even More In Progress…

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Dec 24, 2010 at 9:17am

pan roasted almonds with thyme & truffle oil

Ooh, here’s another quick crowd-pleaser from the lovely blog Jenn Cuisine: Pan-Roasted Almonds with Thyme & Truffle Oil.  They take mere minutes to make and whoamygoodness, they are insanely delicious.  I’m putting these away now so there are at least a few left for my guests.


The skaters arrived!

And both sauces are now done: Softly whipped cream with freshly grated horseradish, minced scallions, and a generous pinch of salt folded in, as well as the tomato sauce from below.  (Recipes for sauce and fondues are here.)

I’m having fun – I hope you are too!  More to come…

More In Progress…

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Dec 24, 2010 at 7:30am

chocolate coconut almond bark

If you’re scrambling today, wishing you’d made Christmas cookies, I offer this fast and delicious chocolate almond coconut bark.  It takes 10 minutes to prepare!  And just try to keep your hands off of it.  If you hate coconut, or almonds, substitute crushed toffee, or peanuts, or whatever you do like – this bark is whatever you want it to be.  Recipe at Dara & Co./Minnesota Monthly magazine.

So far this morning, the house smells of garlic and truffles after making a quick tomato dipping sauce for this evening’s beef fondue.  Here’s our whole menu, by the way, forgot to put it up yesterday.

Cheese fondue with radishes, peppers, pickles, and cubed bread

Escargot in mushroom caps with garlic cream sauce
Roasted asparagus with fresh lemon

Beef tenderloin and cauliflower fritters fondue
Dipping sauces: tomato-truffle, horseradish cream

Chocolate souffles

What are you cooking today?

Even I have to admit that the winter wonderland out my window is gorgeous.  We have a neighborhood hockey rink which one of my neighbors is kindly snow-blowing so everyone can skate today.  It’ll be a Norman Rockwell painting of skaters as soon as he’s done.  (While we enjoy this lovely view, exactly none of us skate…although we stopped feeling guilty about it years ago and now happily watch the fun.)

Merry Christmas Eve!

In Progress…

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Dec 23, 2010 at 10:40am

mushroom caps

I asked my son what he would like for Christmas Eve dinner, something out of our ordinary, something that would feel special.

He requested…escargot!

How fabulous, right?  I immediately jumped online, ordered the snails, and decided I’d rather not deal with the shells.  The dish that inspired Nathan’s request is Cave Vin’s shelless version anyhow, napped in a garlic cream sauce, topped with fried parsley.  Mon Dieu, it is every bit as delicious as it sounds.

For him, I’m going to stick to just snails and garlicky herb butter, served sizzling from the oven, with plenty of crusty baguette slices.

For the rest of us, who love mushrooms as well as escargot, I’m going to place an escargot inside a mushroom cap with garlicky herb butter, ditto the sizzling, crusty deliciousness.

Recipe forthcoming, once I (s)nail it exactly down…

(Oh look, there just happened to be one extra mushroom cap, which found itself stuffed with cheese, and then in the toaster oven, and then in my stomach.  Cook’s treat – I’m a big fan.)

Yes, I Am Alive

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Dec 10, 2009 at 8:20am

Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukkah, and Merry Christmas!  Apparently an entire month has disappeared in a puff of puppy, bronchitis, travel, guests, 8th-grade basketball, and holiday decorating, shopping, and planning.

You can probably tell that I didn’t host Thanksgiving dinner this year (given detailed posts in years previous, a snapshot overview here), but I did bake no-knead bread (crusty, delicious, beyond easy) and reprised the fantastic brussels with pancetta and dried cranberries that I tried for last year’s feast.  The key to the deliciousness is the pulled-apart brussels, which result in a pile of tender leaves that cook quickly and lose any bitterness.  The result is so good, I’ve been asked to make it again for Christmas. Keep it in mind if you’re itching for a new vegetable dish on your holiday table (it’s pretty to boot).

I brought the bread and brussels out to Willmar for Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt Marge’s lovely home.  We had such a beautiful meal – turkey, sage dressing with sausage, mashed potatoes/gravy, sweet potatoes with fresh cranberries, brussels (above), wild rice salad with pine nuts and orange dressing, and bread.  For dessert my cousin’s wife Amanda made pana cotta with cinnamon apples, a delicious and light end to the feast.  Puppy Louis and I spent two nights in Willmar, in fact, hanging with the fam, eating leftovers in the form of Marge’s killer panini sandwiches, and spending Friday night at the farm (aka my aunt Mary’s lovely home – my aunts have beautiful homes, what can I say?) for another gorgeous meal, this time green salad with pears and mustard vinaigrette, pork chops with cherry sauce, polenta, and green beans, with warm apple cake for dessert.  Uff.  Da.  Clearly not a weekend of moderation, but that’s Thanksgiving, and so it goes.

Right before Thanksgiving, John and I had a fabulous time in NYC, in town to celebrate our friend Bartley’s birthday.  We hit several favorite food highlights – the Gotham salad at Bergdorf Goodman, mushroom barley soup at E.A.T., truffles from La Maison du Chocolat, H&H everything bagels on our way to the airport.  New tasties included hand-crafted drinks at the Surrey Hotel’s chic new Bar Pleiades and a literal feast (crispy prawns, velvet chicken, orange beef, Peking duck, and totally craveable shrimp spring rolls) at Chinese hot spot Philippe.

Somewhere in there I got a nasty case of bronchitis which cut my cooking down to zero, other than scraping together a quick soup here and there.  I’m coming back on line, however, slowly but surely.  I made my first pot of New England clam chowder of the season a couple of nights ago, my goodness it tasted good.  I make the Cooks’ Illustrated version which is brothier and lighter than the typical, and more delicious (I think), I recommend it highly.  I also bought a couple of hundred pounds (literally) of high quality beef from my stepmom’s nephew Jay Taylor (thank you to my dad for driving it from Montana to Minnesota) and we’ve enjoyed tenderloin steaks already.  And oh, John and I are hosting an open house for his partners on the 20th, part of which I’m having catered, but part of which I’ll prepare myself.  Stay tuned for menu ideas and recipes as I get my, um, stuff together.

And oh again!  I’m not one for much holiday baking, but I am toying with the idea of trying the Star Tribune’s 2009 cookie contest winner, Almond Triangles (photo at left by Tom Wallace for the Star Tribune) which I’ve heard several raves about already.  They look decidedly un-moderate yet delicious and best of all, easy – yes!  Perhaps for the open house.  I’m also getting pressured by Nathan to bake cutout sugar cookies this year – most years he can take ‘em or leave ‘em (peanut butter kisses are his thankfully easy fave), but when he makes the request…I’m happy to step up.  The trick is finding the time to actually prepare them, hmmm, perhaps Sunday afternoon.  If we end up with anything interesting, I’ll post some pics.

If you’re looking for a great holiday gift idea, check out James Beard Award-winning, Minnesota Monthly food columnist/editor Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl’s new book, Drink This: Wine Made Simple.  If you don’t read her column, and Dear Dara blog, you should because not only is she smart and hilarious, she knows food and wine, big time.  She was on MPR last week with Rick Nelson (Star Tribune), hosted by Kerri Miller, respresenting an hour of laughs and info generated by three of the smartest, coolest people in Minnesota.  Good stuff.

For now, the tree is up, my shopping is more than half done, and I’m feeling unusually on top of things (BIG knock on wood).  Which is good, since Puppy Louis needs some extra TLC for a few days – he was neutered yesterday and is stuck wearing the cone of shame for the next week, poor little guy.  Hope your holiday plans are falling into place better than Louis’…  Good luck stealing some peace (and moderation!) amidst the cooking and baking and wrapping and partying and the general running around like crazy that happens to us all at this time of year.  Stay warm!


view from john’s dad’s office

lovely central park

john walking under bridge in the park

serving forth

wild rice salad, brussels

mashed potatoes, turkey

cooper ready for the feast />

marge’s dog and louis’ new buddy – puppy rosie

dinner at the farm – pear salad

pretty table

greenery inside…

…and out

mom & baby

bucky badger!

puppy louis’ last day of fertility