Category: soup (page 2 of 3)

Return To The Green Market

At the very end of August, we treated ourselves to dinner at Green Market Kitchen with friends.

We last dined at The Green Market not quite a year ago when we tried their special Dia De Los Muertos-inspired menu.  On our most recent visit, the Green Market featured a menu made with produce from the local Probstfield farm.

Probstfield Farm is a part of the Probstfield Living History Foundation, donated by Randolph Probstfield’s family to avoid falling to commercial development.  It is currently being restored as a working farm that provides opportunities for new farmers to learn and be mentored in sustainable agriculture.  This summer, the farm has been selling its produce at the Old Trail Market in Moorhead, MN.  When I visited the market, I chose from tomatoes of all sizes, eggplants, shapely squashes, and melons.

I stopped at Cash Wise, afterwards, to pick up some pantry essentials and couldn’t help but feel sad for those who were picking over a selection of melons grown from a far.

The Green Market seems to be one of a few in Fargo-Moorhead that sources local products and offers a menu based upon what’s fresh and seasonal.  Of the area’s restaurants that do offer a seasonal menu, Green Market’s menu differs day to day.

We split this vibrant cheese plate, $15, while the co-owner picked out a mean red wine to go with our meals (and mean is good).  Please take away my laptop if I start describing food as “bananas.”

This was my favorite cheese plate I have tried, thus far.  I don’t remember the exact cheese selections, but they ranged from a lush triple creme brie to Gorgonzola dolce to crumbly cheddar.  The plate was sprinkled with micro greens, dried and fresh fruits, and sweet cubes of quince paste.  We scooped up the contents of this plate with a thoughtful selection of focaccia, crostini, and flax seed crackers.  Cheeses are also available for purchase from the restaurant’s small deli case.
We also nibbled from a plate of smokey baba ganoush and slightly spicy green beans in a tomato sauce, garnished with olives, giant capers, and more breads. 
Jake ordered a cup of beef soup and the ND 28 day-dry aged beef burger on foccacia with cheese, $12.   
The soup’s broth was round and subtly sweet, containing pulled beef and crisp bites of corn.  My only small quibble is that the beef had a little more bite than I’d prefer.

Jake’s burger was served on toasted focaccia.  We enjoyed the burger patty’s beefier than average flavor.  Plus, it was juicy and cooked to medium rare. 

The adopted Koreans chose the Korean chicken.
The boneless chicken pieces were tender and moist.  Even the breast meat, which I usually avoid since it’s usually dry.  This chicken tasted like it had been brined and a thin layer of crispy chicken skin sat on top.  The sauce was a little bit sweet and nutty with sesame.  The heat level was slightly spicy.  I could have used more heat, but I can usually use more heat.  Overall, the dish was a fun interpretation of Korean flavors.  
The Koreans liked the Korean chicken. 
Last, we all shared a couple orders of this sweet corn cake with ice cream and caramel sauce.  The cake was light in texture and just sweet enough.  Chewy kernels of corn dotted the cake.  We also enjoyed the caramel sauce that was also sweet enough with a slightly bitter note.  I’m not typically one who leaves room for dessert, but I know that I ate more than my fair share.  
This Sunday, September 16th, 2 p.m., the Green Market is hosting a fundraiser to raise money to restore the Probstfield family’s original log cabin, which is possibly the oldest structure in the Red River Valley.  Bernie’s Wines & Liquors is donating wine while the Green Market is providing cheese and fruit platters.  I’m honored to be among a few others who will briefly speak about the farm, herbs, and food blogging.  Join us if you can.

Farm to Fork, a CSA Series: Taking the Easy Way Out…Broccoli, Cheese and Quick Pickles

Join me at Simple, Good, And Tasty where I share a summer update in the Farm to Fork, a CSA Series.

This week I took the easy way out.  I broke down and finally ate my broccoli.  But not without combining it with cheese.  I also experimented with refrigerator pickling.  It’s an easy method to use-up small quantities of vegetables without going through the whole canning process.

I’ll meet you there.

My Knoephla Soup Quest

I’m new to knoephla soup.

The first time I encountered knoephla soup occurred during a solo road trip to Fredonia, ND.  Last fall, I had stumbled upon the site Ghosts of North Dakota which documents ghost and near-ghost towns throughout the state.  I became enamoured with the website’s stunning photography and its readers’ compelling antidotes.  Fredonia had caught my eye because a reader mentioned Home Plate Cafe, a restaurant offering Russian-German specialties.

At Home Plate Cafe, I lapped-up every drop of my knoephla soup.  It came as part of the hearty meatball lunch special which probably cost less than $7.  The broth had a light texture and mouthfeel, even though it shimmered with butter.

Translucent shards of celery and celery floated in the soup, amidst tender potatoes.  Its knoephla dumplings were shaped as diversely as snowflakes.  Unfortunately, Fredonia is two and a half hours from Fargo; west to Jamestown and south through the rural back roads of North Dakota.  I hope to return, someday, for another meal.

Since our move to North Dakota, I’ve learned a little about the state’s German-Russian heritage.  Knoephla soup is one of their food traditions and makes its appearance in restaurants all over this region.

My newly found fascination with German-Russian cuisine has resulted in my self-proclaimed knoephla soup quest.  I am going to try as many versions of khoephla soup as I can and create a version at home, drawing from my favorite versions.

This weekend, I stopped by Kroll’s Diner, a local chain with four locations in North Dakota.  My takeout bowl of knoephla soup with saltine crackers cost $4.99, before tax and tip.

The broth was salty, verging on too salty.  I debated on whether or not I wanted to dilute the soup with a little milk.  The knoephla dumplings were abundant and I was relieved when they tasted lighter and fluffier than they appeared.  The broth left a strong, bouillon aftertaste in my mouth.  I also noticed small pieces of translucent onion and occasional chunks of creamy potato.
This afternoon, I ordered a bowl of knoephla soup from CJ’s Kitchen, to go.  This bowl’s size seemed comparable to Kroll’s Diner and cost $5.50, before tax and tip.
CJ’s knoephla soup was almost as salty as Kroll’s Diner’s.  The broth’s flavor reminded me of clam chowder and didn’t leave a bouillon aftertaste.  The dumplings were dainty and their texture was fluffy.  In addition to small chunks of potato, CJ’s version included some bits of chicken.
Overall, these two Fargo versions were tasty and comforting enough, but quite salty.  I preferred CJ’s by a small margin and will continue my knoephla soup quest.  Feel free to suggest your favorite versions of knoephla soup, recipes, or tips.
Jen’s Knoephla Soup Quest Ranking:
1.  Home Plate Cafe, Fredonia, ND
2.  CJ’s Kitchen, Fargo, ND
3.  Kroll’s Diner, Fargo, ND

Memorial Weekend Jaunt Home: Cafe 116, Wise Acre Eatery, Clearwater Truck Stop

One of my goals is to compile some sort of food guide for those who travel between the Twin Cities and Fargo.

The drive is notoriously dull, but I refuse to believe it’s devoid of any gems.  Every time I make the drive, I want to stop in a different, small town and try a new truck stop or cafe.  The ride is dotted with intriguing towns, many marked by majestic church steeples.

On this particular drive back to the Twin Cities, I stopped at Cafe 116 in Fergus Falls, MN for a light lunch.  Cafe 116 notes that it makes its food from scratch and utilizes local foods and suppliers.  At least three individuals have recommended this cafe and I remembered reading positive reviews in The High Plains Reader and Jihye Chang’s blog.

I rolled into Fergus Falls around lunchtime on Saturday afternoon and was immediately taken by the town’s cozy homes and plush, green trees.  I easily located Cafe 116, about seven minutes from I-94.   I had to pause to my breath after nearly being T-boned by an elderly couple who ran a red light, and forget to grab my camera.

The cafe is spacious and I sat at the window bar.  At first glance, I was confused if I should order at the counter or wait for a table but was quickly assisted.  I ordered a small pot of loose leaf green tea, $3, and browsed the lunch menu that offers cold and grilled panini sandwiches by the whole or half, soup of the day, a vegan burrito, and selection of salads.

I ordered half of a Cleveland panini, $5.25, made with prosciutto, red onion, apple, and mozzarella.  For an additional $1, I substituted vegetables and homemade ranch dressing for chips.  The half sandwich was petite but tasted of high quality.  Nothing fancy, but the prosciutto and apple slices provided a pleasing salty-sweet sensation.  The bread was crispy and scented with toasty Parmesan cheese.

Despite the up-charge, I was glad I substituted fresh vegetables for potato chips.  The half sandwich and large serving of carrot sticks and pea pods made a lovely light lunch.  I wouldn’t hesitate to return and also try their homemade ice cream or creme brulee.

I spent the rest of the day with my folks and we made spicy tacos.

On Sunday afternoon, my friend suggested a few of us meet at Wise Acre Eatery in South Minneapolis.  C’s friend works there and she wanted to check out the restaurant for the first time.  Last summer, I visited Wise Acre Eatery and didn’t have many positive things to say about the service.  However, I have since visited Wise Acre twice for lunch, and have had positive experiences with food and service.

C’s friend stopped by often to check in, though we were served by a couple of individuals we did not know.

I kept it simple and ordered a cold press coffee, bowl of the daily chowder, and a side of bread with butter.  

I genuinely enjoyed the flavorful chowder.  It wasn’t too rich or too salty and I enjoyed the tender chunks of carrot and occasional piece of thick bacon.  The chowder was covered in croutons, made from both flaky croissants and bread.

C’s friend brought us a trio of house made hot sauces.

I’m not sure if they are typically offered to customers but I kept dipping the croutons into the thicker sauce to the left.

Wise Acres was celebrating its birthday and surprised its customers with jars of custard.

We shared a trio of chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon custard accompanied by caramel sauce, rhubarb caramel sauce, chocolate-covered cacao nibs, nut brittle.  I suspect the toppings were an extra gift and I loved the rhubarb caramel sauce the most.

On the way back to the Twin Cities, I picked up some spicy, grilled beef salad from Bangkok Thai Deli for Jake and made one more stop at the Clearwater Travel Plaza.  A couple of readers recommended stopping at Nelson Bros. Restaurant and Bakery for sandwiches made with freshly-baked bread.  I was too full to try a sandwich so I grabbed a giant caramel roll.  The employee confirmed the breads are baked in-house.

Since it was late afternoon, the outside of the roll tasted a little stale but the inside was still moist.  The roll was covered in a thick layer of caramel and nuts but I did not taste any buttery richness.  The caramel seemed to taste more like store-bought pecan pie filling.  Sweet and corn-syrupy.  Oh well.  I used to work next to Isles Bun & Coffee which has become my gold standard for sticky buns.  Isles Bun & Coffee emanates the sweet scent of butter and it’s better for that.

I plan to stop by again for one of the sandwiches but will pass on the baked sweets.

If you have any suggestions for food stops along I-94 between the Twin Cities and Fargo, I’d love to hear them.

My First Attempts At Making Miso Soup

For months, Jake has begged me to make miso soup.

He finally admitted that he is not crazy about sushi or sake, but looks forward to sipping miso soup while dining at Japanese restaurants. So much so, that he longs for a large bowl of miso soup. I like miso soup, I don’t particularly crave it, so I procrastinated on his request.

A few weeks ago, one of my favorite blogs, Chow Times, published an article about making Miso Soup at home and it was the perfect inspiration I needed to begin.

First things first. . . finding specialty Asian ingredients in Fargo.  I visited the Asian & American Market on Main Street.

At the market, I easily find tofu, substituting firm for soft. I forget green onions. Bonito flakes are no where to be found, so I grab the Hondoshi brand bonito soup bouillon as seen in the Chow Times article.

Finding this ingredient feels like a minor victory and I save dashi making for another occasion. I pause at the seaweed. There are so many varieties and I don’t know what I’m looking for. The cash registers are backed up and so I grab a package that mentions “dashi.”

I find a small selection of miso paste and am immediately annoyed each package costs about 10 dollars. I resolve to use the year-old tub I bought in the Twin Cities and hope we don’t die.

The First Soup-Making Attempt
When I begun to make the soup at home, I realized that I bought the wrong kind of seaweed. The sheets were so tough I could hardly cut them with a knife and when I tried to soften them, their texture became like wet linen. The flavor was so salty and oceanic that I realized I’d made a mistake.

Instead of seaweed, I substituted a lot of shredded cabbage which was rendered silky and tender after simmering. I busted out my year-old tub of white miso paste. Having no green onions, I substituted thin shaves of red onion, adding a little to the soup and saving some as garnish.

My soup was simple but satisfying. The flavor was as good if not better than versions we’ve tried at restaurants (except for Obento-Ya), and the soup lacked any unappealing graininess. I’d love to try making miso soup with real bonito flakes, but the powdered stock was good enough and added a hint of their smokey flavor.

This afternoon, my Spoonriver Cookbook arrived in the mail.  I smiled when I noticed the recipe for Tim’s Miso Soup which also incorporates fresh cabbage, among other vegetables. I love that miso soup can be hearty enough to be a meal.

I tried again and filled my second batch with many more vegetables.

Ingredients
6 cups of water
2 teaspoons of dashi flavoring
Tofu, cut into cubes (I used firm)
Your choice of vegetables: Cabbage, carrots, onions, greens, etc.
Miso paste, starting with 5-6 teaspoons (I used white)

The Method
Bring the water to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and add the bonito soup stock.  Stir.

Gently add the tofu cubes and your choice of veggies.  I prefer a lot of each for a heartier soup.  Do not return to a boil.  Gradually dissolve in the miso paste.  You can try adding some of the hot water to your miso paste and dissolving before adding to the soup pot.  If it tastes to salty, add more water and if it tastes too bland, add more miso.

My understanding is that one should not boil the soup, in order to preserve the probiotic benefits of miso, as it is a fermented product.

Garnish with more raw onion or scallion.

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