The Twin Cities Food & Wine Experience was this past weekend at the Minneapolis Convention Center. It was great to see so many local, independent vendors this year specializing in artisan foods. A couple of owners with whom I was able to chat for a moment included Janan Juliff from The Cake Diva  and Karen Loomis from Extra Dough . The Cake Diva was offering samples of a delicious chocolate butter-cream cake and tangy tangerine macarons. Extra Dough was serving slices of dense Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cake and one of their signature nuts, candied walnuts.
Of course, I’m always delighted to taste any wine that Kevin McKinney from MVP Wines  is pouring. It may have something to do with the fact that they are all from Provence, but more importantly they are all absolutely outstanding, especially the rosés.
For the Local Chef’s Challenge, I assisted Rick Kimmes, Executive Chef at The Oceanaire Seafood Room , and Jack Riebel, Executive Chef at The Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant . We used wonderful local ingredients from places like Six Rivers and PastureLand  Cooperatives.
Rick got knocked out in the first round, but Jack made it all the way to the winner’s circle with his Lamb Carpaccio with Shaved Parmesan and Lingonberry sauce and a Stuffed Chicken Breast with Whole Wheat Saffron Couscous and Ancho Chilies. I know it was more complicated, but we were each responsible for one piece of the whole, so I couldn’t give a full description if my life depended on it. If Jack reads this, maybe he can remember all the details.* All I know is that assisting these fine chefs was an honor and it was amazing how fast 45 minutes can go by.
*Addendum: For Chef Riebel’s final showdown with Chef Fratzke he prepared a lamb carpaccio brushed with a lingonberry and chipotle gastrique with whole lingonberries on top and garnished with micro-arugula, parmesan cheese, pine nuts and apple.
And it wasn’t the chicken at all as I had stated above, that was the previous round for which I assisted. For the final entrée, he chose barramundi which he seared, skin-on, and topped with a dressing made of lingonberry jam, roasted peppers, five different herbs, and ancho chiles. The fish was served alongside a saffron whole-wheat couscous atop a kumquat and cumin reduction, which also included tangerines, shallots, butter, and grapefruit. A lingonberry jam vinaigrette was drizzled around the plate as well.
I was also nabbed at the last minute on Sunday to teach a food and beer pairing class with Mike from Summit Brewery. Unfortunately, the scheduled chef was laid up with pneumonia. On the fly, I came up with a recipe, texted a grocery list to a volunteer who happened to be at Lunds and had a scrumptious beef satay with a spicy peanut sauce to everyone within an hour. I called it “Impromptu Entertaining”. We tasted the satay with four of the Summit Brewery  beers. It was a whirlwind, but I think the Red Lager paired the best with the spicy notes of the satay. Here’s the recipe:
Beef Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Yield: 24 one ounce portions
Yield: Makes about 1 cup
1/2 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 small shallot, chopped fine
1/2 inch peeled ginger root chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup rice white vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon sriracha or to taste
- Heat oil in a saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Cook shallots and ginger, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add garlic and continue stirring about 30 seconds.
- Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer, stirring. Simmer sauce, stirring, until combined, about 4 to 5 minutes and cool to room temperature.
- Sauce may be made up to 3 days ahead and chilled, covered. If sauce is too thick after chilling, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons hot water until sauce reaches desired consistency.
- Serve sauce with grilled beef satay. Any remaining can be tossed as part of a spinach salad.
1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak, 1 1/2 inches thick
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine
1 medium shallot, peeled and chopped fine
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 scallions, minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon sriracha
1/4 cup soy sauce
Juice of one small lime
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup salted peanuts
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
- Cover skewers in water and soak for at least one hour.
- Cut steak across the grain into strips. Place in bowl and toss with remaining ingredients. Let marinate for at least ½ hour a room temperature or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.
- Thread steak on skewers without overlapping.
- Cook satay on indoor or outdoor grill until medium rare turning once or twice.
- Serve warm or room temperature with a bowl of peanut sauce as part of a buffet, garnishing platter with peanuts, cilantro leaves and sesame seeds.