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Posts tagged as shaina olmanson

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.

White Bean Gratin

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 9, 2011 at 12:50pm

white bean gratin

If you love cookbooks, and don’t own Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin, add it to your list.  Everything in it is delicious, fresh, approachable.  Some of the recipes are longish, but not terribly complicated, and hey, sometimes greatness takes a little effort.  I’m down with that.

Like this bean gratin.  It’s quite simple, really, it just requires a bit of forethought.

The recipe is written for flageolet beans, the traditional cassoulet bean.  If you’re organized, and planning ahead, put your hands on flageolets because I’ve made this gratin with them, and by substituting navy beans, and honestly, the flageolets have it.  Their texture is firmer, their flavor more pronounced.  That said, the gratin is awfully delicious made with navy beans as well.

white bean gratin

This gratin is meatless, and could be easily made vegan (use olive oil for the breadcrumbs), but is so loaded with flavor that you’ll wonder…hmmm…are you sure there’s not a spot of duck fat in there somewhere?  A smidge of lamb?  Baaaaa?  The crusty top is the perfect foil for creamy beans, and the caramelized onions scattered on the bottom are as delightful to discover as your high school crush on Facebook.


I apologize for the rather lame pics – I made this dish for a group of lady food blogger friends, and was chatting and sipping bubbles and not very focused (pun!) on my camera.  In addition to the beans, I made a mess of pork ribs – pork-n-beans! – but the rest of the meal was gorgeously filled out by my guests.

Here’s a tip: Invite food bloggers to your next potluck dinner.  Wow the deliciousness.

kale salad

Kale Salad with Apples, Pecans & Smoked Cheese from Kelli Abrahamian of I Had a Delicious Time.

shaina olmanson baguette

Homemade baguette from Shaina Olmanson of Food for My Family.

cheese log with sunflower seeds, honey, blackberries

Sweet-and-Salty Honey-Cheese Spread from Brenda Score of A Farm Girl’s Dabbles.

I did not photograph (insert head slap, then see above chatting and sipping) the bounty of olives, almonds, and cheeses brought by Kate Selner of Kate In the Kitchen.  I also forgot to snap pics of the Cheesecake in a Jar brought by Amanda Rettke of I Am Baker, gorgeously labeled and filled with creamy-dreamy heaven (check out the pics on her site – swoon).  Amanda also shared her darling new Baby Eddie!  Seriously yum, both the cheesecake and Eddie.

Thanks ladies!

White Bean Gratin
From Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
Serves 6

7 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small sprig rosemary
1 chile de arbol, crumbled (substitute a pinch of cayenne)
1/2 c. diced onion, plus 5 c. thinly sliced onions
1/2 c. diced fennel
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. thyme leaves, divided
1 1/2 c. dried flageolets (or navy beans)
5 Tbsp. butter
2 c. fresh breadcrumbs (I used gluten-free bread)
2 tsp. chopped parsley
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

Heat a medium pot over high heat for 2 minutes.  Pour in 4 Tbsp. of the olive oil, and add the rosemary sprig and crumbled chile.  Let them sizzle in the oil a minute.  Add the diced onion, fennel, garlic, 1 Tbsp. thyme, and the bay leaf, sitrring a minute or two, until the onion is wilted.  Add the flageolets, and cook a few more minutes, stirring to coat the beans with the oil.

Cover the beans with water by 3 inches and bring to a boil over high heat.  Turn the heat down to low, and place a paper towel over the beans to keep them under the surface.  Simmer for 30 minutes, then add 3 tsp. of (Kosher) salt to the beans.  Continue cooking on a low simmer about 1 hour, until the beans are tender.  As the beans cook, add water as necessary (but don’t add too much – you want these juices to be rich and a little starchy, since they will be an important part of the finished gratin).  Remove the beans from the heat, discard the paper towel, and let them cool in their juices.  Taste for seasoning.

While the beans cook, caramelize the sliced onions.  Heat a large saute pan or Dutch oven over high heat for a minute.  Swirl in the remaining 3 Tbsp. olive oil, and add the sliced onions, 2 tsp.thyme, 1 tsp. salt, and some freshly ground black pepper.  Cook 6 minutes, stirring often.  Turn the heat down to medium, and stir in 1 Tbsp. butter.  Cook 15 minutes, stirring often and scraping with a wooden spoon, until the onions start to caramelize.  Turn the heat down to low, and continue to cook about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are a deep golden brown.  Spread the onions on the bottom of a 9×9-inch (or equivalent) gratin dish.  Spoon the flageolets into the grain dish with a good amount of their cooking juices.  The beans will expand a little as they bake, so fill the gratin dish only three-quarters full (reserve any extra beans for use in another dish).

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss the breadcrumbs in a medium bowl with the remaining tsp. of thyme and the chopped parsley.  Melt the remaining 4 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook about 3 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter browns and smells nutty.  Pour the brown butter over the breadcrumbs, let cool a minute or two, and toss to combine.

Sprinkle the brown butter breadcrumbs over the beans, and bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the gratin is bubbling, nicely browned, and crispy on top.