Thrill of the Grill

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Written by Margo Stich


Whether it's football tailgating or an autumn cookout, fall holds ample opportunities to continue exploring the sizzle and glow of the grill. This season instead of the usual steaks, brats and burgers, try chicken, turkey or pork. They are leaner and rev-up the taste buds when cooked over an open flame.

But one can’t talk about meat without talking about the farmer. On a recent visit to Ann Arbor, Mich., I was impressed to learn how many local markets and chefs insist on chemical and hormone free, fresh meats from local producers.

Tessa Leung, owner of Sontes restaurant in Rochester, believes someday Rochester will be “on trend.” She has been buying meat from local farmers since she opened her doors because it keeps money circulating in our community, increases the likelihood that others will venture into farming and is healthier, fresher and tastes better.

With a year-round farmers market now in Rochester, meats from a variety of local, small farms are easier to access. The People’s Co-op, Rochester Produce and Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls also carry locally raised and processed meats. So fire up that grill and perhaps one of these unique recipes will become a family favorite.



Exploring Cheese from A to ZZest

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Written by Margo Stich

0013From the gooey goodness of melted mozzarella to the sharpness of aged cheddar, cheese gives panache to everything from appetizers to desserts but also holds its own sitting on a cracker. Made from a variety of milks, in every consistency imaginable, cheese comes from every corner of the globe.

    But how much do we really know about this amazingly versatile food? What makes an artisan cheese? How do you know if it is a hard, semi-soft or soft cheese? And how many varieties can you find in Rochester? Recently, I explored area grocers, restaurants and the farmer’s market to find answers.


0015Courtesy of reader A. Lien.
    4-5 oz. creamy goat cheese
    2 Tbsp. olive oil
    1/2 tsp. hot Asian chili oil
    2 Tbsp. bread crumbs
    2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
    2 tsp. brown sugar
    2 tsp. caraway seeds
    1 tsp. chili powder
    1 tsp. cumin
    1/2 tsp. salt


0019Courtesy of

    1 wheel (15 oz.) chilled Wisconsin brie cheese*
    2 Tbsp. red raspberry jam
    2 Tbsp. brown sugar
    1 Tbsp. honey
    1/4 cup sliced almonds
    Brown sugar (for topping)
    Sliced almonds (for topping)
    Wafer or shortbread cookies



Recipe: Carrot Cake

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0017A wonderfully moist, flavorful cake with ricotta cheese.

    3/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
    1 cup sugar (less 2 Tbsp.)
    1 cup canola oil
    1 cup ricotta cheese
    1 tsp. vanilla
    3 large eggs
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. each baking soda and cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. each salt and ground nutmeg
    2 cups carrots (about 1-1/2 lbs.)
    1/2 cup canned, crushed pineapple, drained
    1/2 cup each chopped walnuts and golden raisins



How To: Homemade Vanilla Yogurt

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Written by Margo Stitch and Dawn Sanborn

0003You can make yogurt in your own home for a fraction of the cost of the typical store-bought type. Doing so requires no special equipment, other than a thermometer. Other benefits include the lack of added preservatives, and there is no waste in packaging materials.

1    Basic ingredients are milk, a yogurt culture (or plain yogurt), dry milk powder, guar or xantham gum, and vanilla and sugar when making vanilla yogurt.

2     Bring 1 quart milk to 115° F.

3     Add 1/2 cup dry milk powder and 1/3 cup sugar.

4     Whisk in 1/2 tsp. vanilla.

5    Remove 1/4 cup of milk mixture and add 1/4 tsp. guar or xanthan gum to this. Whisk all back into the primary mixture.



Seasons of the Vine - May/June 2012

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Written by Margo Stitch

0011Pairing Wine and Cheese

Often, white wines are easier to pair with cheese than reds. This is because the high acidity of many whites gives them versatility. The acid cuts through the rich buttery cheese and enhances the taste of the wine.

    Tannins often clash with cheeses, so red wines are generally less successful. However, local reds derived from cold climate grapes are lower in tannins. The basic guidelines below apply to all wines: local or regional (USA), old world or new world.



Revitalizing Rhubarb - Rhubarb Cookbook Reviews

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Written by Margo Stitch

0021“Everything Rhubarb: Recipes and stories from a small town that celebrates rhubarb,” Dry Store Publishing Company, 2010, $15 (pbk). For orders, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

As spring welcomes rhubarb season, here is a delightful collection that will inspire destination travel and culinary adventures. Four dynamo Lanesboro women identified on the title page as “Top Stalk” Nancy Martinson, “The Root” Heidi Dybing, “Tallest Stalk” Mary Bell and “Newest Stalk” Jennifer Wood published this cookbook in 2010. They depict the community spirit of Lanesboro and surrounding area along with images of the annual June rhubarb festival.


0031Perhaps it is the anticipation of Rochester’s annual World Festival April 13–14, or recent visits to area grocers that has had me contemplating different healthy dishes laden with vibrant spices.   



Recipe: Pad Thai

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Written by Margo Stitch

0034Courtesy of the Asian Food Store (Rochester)

    5 oz. rice stick noodle
        (soak in warm water for 15-20 minutes)
    Oil as needed
    1 Tbsp. each minced shallot and chopped garlic
    2-3 Tbsp. fish sauce
    2-3 Tbsp. sugar
    2 Tbsp. tamarind juice or vinegar
    1/4 lb. shrimp or chicken
    2 eggs
    1 cup fresh bean sprouts
    2 green onions, chopped 1/3 inch long
    1 tsp. red chili powder, or to taste
    1/2 cup roasted peanuts
    Fresh lime


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