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Posts tagged as molly mcneil

Pear Tart with Almond-Thyme Crust & Honey Whipped Cream (Gluten-Free!)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Sep 19, 2012 at 5:26am


In my world, ’tis the true season of giving right exactly now, when friends share the bounty of their gardens and the lovely jams, syrups, salsas, booze, and pickles made to stretch summer and fall into winter.

garden bounty stephanie meyer fresh tart

My own garden is planted primarily with heirloom tomatoes (thanks to the amazing Heidi Skoog, she of Serious Jam and Bastian Skoog florists), which I’ve been eating while picking, slicing for BLTs, and roasting for soup. Depending on how many I end up with over the next week or so, I may press my friend Laurie Jesch-Kulseth, who writes the food blog Relishing It, for tips on making salsa. She brought me a jar as a hostess gift awhile back and in the confusion of post-party clutter, I lost track of who it was from. A few days later, when the family popped the jar and dug in, we were all thrilled by the hit of bright summer heat in the middle of winter. In order to properly thank the cook/gift-giver, I had to ask on Twitter who had brought me such a generous homemade treat…Laurie answered that it was She, Giver of Salsa and Smiles.

If you too find yourself buried in tomatoes, be sure check out One Tomato Two Tomato blog, written by forager/pickler/canner extraordinaire Tammy Kimbler. She’s even (gorgeously, per Instagram stalking) making tomato wine! Love.

And if you find yourself with a giant box of just-picked pears, like I did courtesy of my friend Scott Pampuch, consider throwing together this tart. I’ve been meaning to adapt this crust to be gluten-free for awhile and a bounty of firm-juicy pears provided the perfect opportunity. I find that recipes that require very little wheat flour – crepes, popovers, and nut cookies/crackers/tarts – are ideal candidates for tasty gluten-free baking. This crust’s flavor and texture is derived primarily from ground almonds (and butter!) and is pressed into the pan (not rolled). Prepared with sorghum flour, the crust turned out as nutty and crisp as your favorite holiday shortbread cookies. (It goes without saying that it’s quite lovely prepared with wheat flour as well.)

pear tart almond-thyme crust honey whipped cream stephanie meyer fresh tart

Scott and his family spent a whole day picking pears courtesy of Linda Newman, in Watertown, MN, and another whole day delivering them to lucky friends. I spent very little time throwing this tart together and figure I came out quite nicely as I scarfed down a large, warm piece with honey whipped cream melting into it. (For the record, inspired by my friend Molly McNeil and her Minnesota Peach Farm pears, with input from Tim Niver of The Strip Club Meat and Fish via Twitter – as you can tell, I so love social media for ideas, recipes, and tips – I also soaked a mason jar stuffed with peeled, diced pears in gin for a few days. Pear gin! Hurray!)

Try this crust with your other favorite fresh, juicy fruits as well – think cherries, peaches, apples, plums, figs, or blueberries for year-round tartiness.

Recipe for Pear Tart with Almond-Thyme Crust & Honey Whipped Cream at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

French 75 (aka Mollytav Cocktail)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jan 3, 2012 at 2:43pm

french 75

Happy New Year! Bubbles aren’t just for New Year’s Eve of course, in fact in my book they’re for every day (bit of an obsession), especially when topping a fabulous cocktail. When I had the idea to conjure a cocktail recipe to open 2012, I immediately tweeted my minxstress friend Molly McNeil, she of the sangria recipe I posted in October. We are both big, BIG fans of gin cocktails, especially with bubbles, and she came through in spades with this lovely sparkling tipple.

Molly notes that the cocktail has its roots in WWI, with two theories on the French 75 name. The first holds that French soldiers would drink the concoction before heading into battle, where they used their weapon of choice, the French 75mm field gun. The second, which sounds spot on to me after testing a few rounds of the recipe – kablam! – holds that the combination had such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun, also called a “75 Cocktail,” or “Soixante Quinze” in French (via Wikipedia).

My husband John preferred a bit of sugar in the mix, so I’ve made note of that option in the recipe. I liked it both ways, but I prefer cocktails on the drier side. You decide which version you like best. Be prepared to giggle your answer.

Molly incorporated Bittercube Lemontree bitters, noting that “Bitters are the new black.” Indeed!

Recipe for the French 75 aka Mollytav Cocktail at Dara & Co./Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Autumn Sangria

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Oct 18, 2011 at 3:41pm

autumn sangria

You might think of sangria as a summer drink – which it is – but this autumn version just might be the best I’ve ever had. The pretty jug in the photo was stirred together by my friend Molly McNeil, a cocktail minxtress if ever I’ve met one, based on a version by the talented Leslee Miller of Amusee.

I tell you, the number of ladies out there with interesting, adventurous palates is just endless!

Thank goodness.

Recipe for Autumn Sangria at Dara & Co./Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Tour de Farm/Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner, Blogger Etiquette & Sweet Corn Panna Cotta: Part II

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Sep 6, 2011 at 9:14am

sweet corn panna cotta

So…on to Part II and the pretty details of the Tour de Farm/Celebrity Chef Tour dinner. Despite the bumps in the evening (see Part I), it really was an amazing night. In fact, the whole weekend was a blast, starting on Friday night, when Joy Summers, Molly McNeil, and I stopped by Birchwood Cafe to chat with proprietress Tracy Singleton and to meet National Geographic fellow, sustainable seafood advocate, and chef Barton Seaver. I bought Seaver’s book For Cod barton seaver, scott pampuch, corner tableand Country and had the chance to talk with him for a few minutes about his work and mission. As I left I told him I’d see him not just at Sunday’s event, but also for dinner Saturday night at Corner Table, where he and Tour de Farm founder/chef Scott Pampuch were cooking together, featuring a menu of sustainable fish as well as CT’s signature local fare.

Debbie and Stu Williams, as well as Rudy Maxa, Ana Scofield, and Ana’s daughter Natalie, joined John and me for dinner. We chatted with Seaver and Pampuch, decided to let them choose dishes for us (very wise decision), and had the best meal of the summer: Tomato salad with trout roe. Pickled herring, smoked clams, and basil pesto. Trout cakes with sweet corn. Pork belly with scrambled duck egg. Braised rabbit. Slow roasted salmon with goat cheese butter, baby Brussels, and walnut pesto.

And oh, lovely sweet corn panna cotta for dessert, mmm. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, it turns out those creamy dreamy bites were the first of many I’d be maniacally inhaling over the next couple of weeks…but more on that in a bit.

star prairie trout farm

After precious little sleep on either Friday or Saturday night, I picked up my friends Joy Summers, Shaina Olmanson, and Molly McNeil and we were off for Star Prairie Trout Farm in Star Prairie, Wisconsin, for Sunday’s Tour de Farm dinner. I think it’s fair to say that Star Prairie is the Lothlorien of Wisconsin farms, watery and elvish and a little bit magical. The sight of the long, communal dinner table – always impressive – was particularly delightful as it twisted and turned amongst crystal clear trout springs.

tim mckee

tim mckee, andrew zimmern

dan zeroth

mike decamp

Did I mention that the weather was perfect? Dry, sunny, warm, clear. No frizz. Even though I stayed for far too long, I didn’t score even one mosquito bite. I’m telling you…Lothlorien, for real.

shaina olmanson

dara moskotwitz grumdahl, scott pampuch

As a Celebrity Chef Tour/James Beard Foundation event, the guest chefs included Seaver, of course, as well as chefs Tim McKee and Andrew Zimmern, with Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl as the evening’s sommelier. Yes, I write for Dara, and think she’s just the bees knees in every possible way, but those are not the reasons that the highlight of the evening, for me, was the marvel of the wine pairings with the food.

The reason is…the wine pairings were delightful. Interesting, approachable, and just really…fun. Wine fun! Food fun! So good.

tour de farm menu

Also fun? Sitting next to and chatting with Kris Hase, Tour de Farm organizer (along with Pampuch), as well as TDF website designer, blogger, and photographer. All the stunning Tour de Farm photos that have made you so eager to attend one of these dinners? She took them.


tour de farm chefs

scott pampuch

barton seaver

When the lovely sweet corn panna cotta I’d had for dessert the night before at Corner Table showed up alongside skirt steak at this dinner, it kicked off a whole rave about the beauty of panna cotta, both sweet and savory, and how rather easy it is to make, and how it s
hould be invited onto more plates.

See Dara & Co./Minnesota Monthly Magazine for Kris’ genius “cheese course” take on Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Honey & Berries and Sweet Corn Panna Cotta with Bacon & Blue Cheese.

And see below for the Sweet Corn Panna Cotta I had on Saturday and Sunday, a recipe that Thomas in the kitchen at Corner Table came up with for the event. I photographed – and let’s be honest, quickly devoured – it with fried sage (up top) as well as a with a sexy strawberry-balsamic-black pepper jam (below) I was lucky to possess, one of the amazing Serious Jams by Heidi Skoog that you will soon be hearing much about…killer stuff.

sweet corn panna cotta

In case you’re counting, that’s three versions of panna cotta I’ve made in the last couple of weeks. A couple of them I made twice. That’s a lotta panna cotta friends, and I’ve loved every spoonful.

Your turn now…hit it.

Sweet Corn Panna Cotta
Via Tour de Farm/Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner
Makes six 4-oz. servings

1 c. whole milk, divided
2 tsp. powdered gelatin
2 tsp. butter
3 ears corn, husked, kernels sliced off cob
1 c. heavy cream
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Pour 1/2 c. of whole milk in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin evenly over the top to soften it. Set the bowl aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the corn and heat, stirring a few times, for 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 c. of milk and the heavy cream. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove pan from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Whisk the milk/gelatin into the warm mixture.

In a blender, puree the corn and liquid together on highest setting to a very smooth puree. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl, using a ladle to press out as much liquid as possible. Season mixture to taste with salt & pepper. Ladle into six 4-oz. ramekins. Chill until set, 6-8 hours.

Serve cold in ramekins, or turn out onto plates by warming the bottoms of the ramekins on a plate of hot water for 2-3 minutes and then running a knife around the edges before inverting.

Tour de Farm/Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner, Blogger Etiquette & Sweet Corn Panna Cotta: Part I

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Sep 6, 2011 at 9:12am

I inhaled the gorgeous plate of food above two weeks ago, which feels like two years ago, given that between now and then my mom had major emergency surgery and time has sped up and stopped both at the same time. It’s almost impossible to imagine that I was ever running around stunning Star Prairie Trout Farm, at the Tour de Farm/Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner, in a sun dress, laughing with my friends, snapping too many pictures, eating perfect food perfectly paired with perfect wine…

tour de farm, molly mcneil, joy summers, shaina olmanson, stephanie meyer

…but there I am. I’m so grateful that I have the pictures to remember that I was there, having an awfully good time, with my lovely friends Molly McNeil, Joy Summers, and Shaina Olmanson.

About those pictures. There were seven of us bloggers at the event, all with big cameras and a passion for taking pictures of food and chefs and pretty things, and we were…overwhelming.

While it was a rather perfect storm of elements not likely to recur anytime soon – a very special event, a gorgeous setting, an unsual mass of photographers, a level of comfort with chefs that we all know and like and have photographed before, lots and lots o’ wine – we did have a long discussion on the Minnesota Food Bloggers Facebook page about blogger etiquette, as it were, concluding with a general consensus¬† to 1) be aware of our impact as a whole (to avoid a paparazzi effect), 2) be respectful of chefs and staff and their space, 3) not bother other diners/guests, 4) ask permission to take photographs, and 5) remember to sit back and enjoy the food and setting.

mike phillips, barton seaver, scott pampuch, tour de farm

tour de farm volunteers

When deciding if it’s appropriate to bring a big camera, it’s obviously important to bear in mind the mission of the event. I worked on the Eat Ramen Help Japan event held earlier this summer, and our stated goal was to raise awareness and money to help feed Japanese families affected by the March earthquake and tsunami.

In that case – bring on the paparazzi, right? We courted as much media and social media coverage as possible.

tour de farm, star prairie trout farm

In the case of Tour de Farm, the stated goal, via the TDF website, is “…to gather people with their family, friends and new friends to share an experience that generations of farm families experience all the time. By celebrating the harvest, the goodness it provides and the toil at the hands of those who provide it, we hope people are inspired to consciously live and eat the way we should, naturally, healthy and as a family and community.¬† We want people to escape the city to unwind in a tranquil setting and appreciate the wonderful farms where our food is produced.”

Click click click click click. Not particularly tranquil. As someone who loves to take pictures, pretty much all the time, I confess that I didn’t even consider not bringing my camera. I was so excited to be away with my friends, in a lovely place, with so many people that I respect and admire, that I couldn’t wait to photograph the farm, guests, food, chefs, all of it. While I’ve so enjoyed looking at and sharing my images, I’ll never go to an event like this again expecting to document it from beginning to end, unless I’m hired to do exactly that.

What do you think?

Details about the evening, including a recipe for one of my favorite parts of an overall breathtaking meal, in Tour de Farm/Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner, Blogger Etiquette & Sweet Corn Panna Cotta: Part II.

Don’t miss my colleagues’ beautiful and varied spins on the same evening:

Amy Peterson at Green Your Plate
Joy Summers at City Pages Hot Dish Blog and Eating the Minneapple Part I and Part II
Shaina Olmanson at Babble Network’s The Family Kitchen

Make sure to see the results of the long and scrumptious panna cotta discussion I had with web designer/photographer/cook/Tour de Farm organizer Kris Hase, including her recipes for Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Honey & Berries and Sweet Corn Panna Cotta with Bacon & Blue Cheese, at Dara & Co./Minnesota Monthly Magazine.