Japanese Burgers with Wasabi Ketchup

I signed up for emails from Tasting Table and they are some of the few subscription emails I actually read.  If you're not signed up for them, give them a try!  They will fill your inbox with reviews of restaurants, great new ingredients, kitchen gadgets and recipes.

This one sparked my interest.  Wasabi ketchup?  That sounded good!

You can find the recipe HERE.

First you make the wasabi ketchup.  Pretty simple, mix ketchup, soy sauce and wasabi paste!

Next, the burgers.  I mix bread and milk in all of my burgers to help keep them moist on the grill.  This recipe called for mixing the milk with panko breadcrumbs.  The burgers were half ground sirloin, half ground pork, seasoned with white onion, black pepper, soy sauce, salt and the on very interesting ingredient, sesame oil!

The sesame oil is only rubbed on the surface of the burgers.  I don't know if it was just the strong aroma or if I really did taste the sesame oil in the burgers.

I served the burgers with some yummy lemon potatoes (See my May 7th post) and corn on the cob.  I skipped the butter and salt and just coated my corn with a little tuscan herb EVOO from the Olive Grove Olive Oil Company.  So good!

The verdict on the burgers?  Well, I really like the wasabi ketchup!  It's not too hot but has just enough of the wasabi flavor.  It would be good on any burger!

The burgers, well, they were very juicy.  They just melted in your mouth, but I didn't think they had a whole lot of flavor.  They really needed the ketchup.  So would I make them again?  Probably not.  But I will make the ketchup again!

Farmer's Market!

I should never go to Farmer's Market unsupervised.  It all looks so good I want to bring it all home.  I love the St. Paul Farmer's Market.  All of the vendors are local so all of the produce is what is in season and locally grown.  They also have a lot of great meat, cheese, soap (ok, so I'm not into homemade soap but if you are you can get it there), salsa (LOVE Snappy Dog), bread and lots of other delicious things.

It's another rainy Saturday in Minnesota.  And not just drizzly today, pouring rain.  What else are you going to do but go to Farmer's Market (especially when your dogs won't let you sleep past 5:30am)?  I did have a little coffee and some Kindle time this morning then headed off to see what they had to offer.  I'm guessing there weren't too many horse drawn wagon rides today.

I arrived a little after 8am and it was already packed! 

There were lots and lots of plants and flowers.  I admired their beauty and the people who can actually keep them alive, then walked right past.  My thumb isn't even remotely green!

There was lots of rhubarb.  One stand was advertising "strawberry rhubarb".  I had no idea there was anything other than green or red rhubarb.  So I took the risk and bought some. What's the worst that could happen?  It would taste like red rhubarb?  I did a little research after I got home and there are more varieties of rhubarb than I can list here!  Who knew?  If you're really interested you can click HERE and check them out for yourself.  I bought some "regular" rhubarb too.  I'll make Dave a couple of pies and see if he can tell the difference.

Two other vegetables were in abundance, asparagus and spinach.  I couldn't resist either!  I also found some really nice looking parsnips.  I love mashed parsnips!
I was out of hummus and as luck would have it Deena's Gourmet Hummus was at the market today.  I bought two flavors, spicy black bean chipoltle and roasted red pepper.  The hummus is handmade (according to the website) weekly by Deena herself right here in St. Paul.  I love the roasted red pepper on turkey sandwiches!  She puts feta cheese in the roasted red pepper hummus giving it this great, unique flavor!  I've never had the black bean before but I'm sure I'll find a use for it.

Eichten's Hidden Acre is always at the Farmer's Market.  They make the best cheese!  I thought I'd pick up some of their gouda since they were right there!  They now make a low-fat gouda.  Those of you who know me know I do NOT do fat free cheese.  That isn't cheese, it's some sort of plastic.  I rarely do light cheese but this was good!  Ruth then talked me into trying the part-skim herb gouda.  It didn't really sound all that good to me.  What do I know?  It was delicious!  Thanks Ruth!

Another new (well new to me) thing I found and couldn't pass up was pasta from Sunrise Creative Gourmet out of Hibbing, MN.    They have been around since 1913!  I went back and forth between the Butternut Squash Lasagnetta and the Roasted Red Pepper variety.  I landed on the butternut squash.  I knew I had alfredo in the frig and I was thinking the pasta with alfredo, asparagus fresh from Farmer's Market, grilled shrimp and a salad made from the fresh spinach I just got too, would make a yummy dinner.

I can never pass up chives or green onions, I throw them in everything so they came home with me too.

My bag was full!

Everything is processed and put away and I've got the upstairs cleaned.  I took a little break to watch the torrential rains and update my blog.  Next is getting the lower level clean and finishing the laundry.  Not nearly as much fun as wandering around Farmer's Market but it has to be done!

UPDATE:  Dinner was delicious!  Sunrise Creative Gourmet Butternut Squash Lasagnetta, sauteed asparagus, grilled shrimp with Penzey's Galena Street Rub on it and a spinach salad.  Yummy!

Meatball Lettuce Wraps

I was going through my Goodhousekeeping magazine and found this recipe.  It looked like a fun, easy appetizer to make for guests and as a bonus it's pretty darn healthy!

LINK to recipe.

This was a pretty simple recipe, ground turkey, fresh mint (which grows wild in my yard!), fresh limes, garlic carrots, fish sauce, sugar, salt and pepper.  That's it! 

I love my food processor.  I know I owned it before I got married so it's at least 15 years old and still works like a charm!  When you have to shred three cups of carrots it comes in very handy!

Once your ingredients are in place this assembles very quickly.  First mix up the carrot slaw and let it sit, then make the meatballs.

I have to admit, as I was putting the meatballs on the skewers I was thinking "this is going to be bland".  Boy was I wrong.

These grilled up very fast!  A couple were on a hotter part of the grill and did get a little dry so don't leave them for long.  Four minutes is probably plenty of cooking time depending on how hot you have your grill.  I was trying to be VERY healthy so I used ground turkey breast (no skin or dark meat).  I think if I make these again I'll just use "ground turkey" which includes the skin and dark meat.  I think it will stay moister on the grill that way.

They are pretty on the plate, good for you, and the best part they taste great!  The lime juice and mint are an amazing combination.  I ate just a meatball before I tried it in the wrap.  The flavor was so good and even better when you add the crunchy carrot slaw.  The grocery store didnt' have bib lettuce when I was there so I just used green leaf lettuce.  I think these would make great appetizers or a nice light summer dinner!

Can you make chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans) taste good?

I saw this recipe in my Good Housekeeping magazine and thought it sounded interesting and the picture looked like a fun snack.  I'm not a big fan of chickpeas.  I'll eat them if they are mixed in something but they aren't a food I seek out.

The recipe was really easy.  Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas, toss with oil, coriander, cayenne and salt then some flour and bake.

What the recipe doesn't say is these things pop just like popcorn.... all over the inside of my new oven!  If you decide to try them, I would suggest you loosely tent foil over the pan to save yourself some cleanup later.

In the jelly-roll pan
The first one I tried I wasn't too impressed, but I munched on a few more.  They weren't bad.  Then they cooled off.  Yea, not so good cold.

So, can you make chickpeas taste good?  Momentarily.  As soon as they cooled the crispy shell became soggy and that with the mushy texture of the chickpeas became something I didn't really like.

Grilled Rosemary Pork Loin and Lemon Potatoes

My Entertaining magazine, from Cook's Illustrated, arrived yesterday.  I was flipping through it and nearly every recipe in it sounded good!  We bought our first rosemary plant of the season and smell has me wanting everything with rosemary!  So we decided to try two today, Grilled Rosemary Pork Loin and Lemon Potatoes.

I'd never butterflied a pork loin before.  It was surprisingly easy!

Parsley, rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil are mixed together then spread on the butterflied pork.

It is then rolled and tied, rubbed with some olive oil then coated with salt and pepper before heading for the grill.

The pork loin is sealed then cooked with indirect heat until it's done.  Let it rest 15 minutes then enjoy!

The potatoes were equally as easy.  They are first steamed in chicken broth, lemon juice and smashed garlic until they are tender.

The liquid is then boiled off, oil added (I used a garlic infused EVOO) and they are browned.  The final step is to toss them with lemon zest, chopped garlic and parsley.  I love the flavor of roasted garlic so I threw the garlic in the pan as the potatoes were browning.  Yum!

I served the pork and potatoes with my favorite salad of mixed greens, goat cheese, craisins, toasted almonds and a dressing made of blood orange EVOO and flavored balsamic.  This time I used a black cherry flavored balsamic.

The pork was very good, but to be honest, we enjoy a pork tenderloin rubbed with Penzey's Northwoods Fire or Galena Street Rub just as well.  That being said, this is a very pretty dish and I do love the rosemary!  It would be a fun one to serve to guests (probably why it's published in an Entertaining magazine!).

The potatoes were really good!  I will definitely make those again.  They had a great fresh, bright lemon flavor with just a hint of garlic.  And, considering summer may actually arrive, it's a nice alternative to heating up the oven to 400+ degrees!

DeGidio's - We'll be back!

Our dog-sitter is going to be very busy this summer with summer school and his "real" job (I guess we don't count as a real job) so we needed to make sure we had an alternative to board the kids.  Cabby has been boarded at Warren's Dog Stop many times and she LOVES, yes LOVES, it.  Cider's always been at home with our dog-sitter.  We needed to know that he would be ok at Warren's too so tonight was a "test run".  Based on the pictures posted by Warren on Facebook, Cider's doing just fine.  Of course he hasn't tried to get Cider in a crate for the night yet!

Since we had a night where we didn't have a ticking dog clock, we decided to try some place new for dinner.  We'd been on West 7th in St. Paul last week and noticed a place called DeGidio's.  We checked out their website and it looked pretty good so we decided to try it.
After quite a bit of time trying to find a parking space (their parking lot is, well, interesting) we made it to dinner.

We weren't sure what to expect from the outside.  The building is pretty plain and appeared to be recently updated.  Inside we found a very comfortable restaurant that, like Mancini's, seems to take you back in time a little.  We picked a booth in the corner of the dining room from which we could watch the action.  The booths are dark leather and comfortable.  It looks like maybe the inside has been renovated fairly recently too, but not so much that it loses it's "supper club" charm.

Our waitress, Janet, was adorable and provided great service.  She made some recommendations on dinner and wine and was attentive.

The menu is simple, appetizers, salads, Italian entrees and "American Classics".  We were at an Italian restaurant, we weren't going to order walleye!

We ordered a bottle of Cabernet and started with the Crostini Plate.  It was a  trio of olive tapenade, bruschetta and goat cheese served with perfectly toasted French bread.  It was way more than enough for two, certainly enough for four!  The bruschetta topping was to die for.  The goat cheese and tapenade were also delicious.  We almost finished it all, the whole time saying "we shouldn't eat anymore we won't eat our dinner".

We put a good dent in it and I took the goat cheese home!

For dinner Dave ordered the "Combo" dip.  Two housemade meatballs and a spicy sausage link served over mostaccioli with the house red sauce.  I ordered the Spicy Penne Arrabiata which was spiced chicken, roasted mushrooms, onions and roma tomatoes tossed with crushed peppers and a splash of cream with roasted peppers and baked mozzarella.  Both dishes were delicous.
The Combo Dip
The Spicy Penne Arribiata
You know how at most restaurants when your order pasta with a protein in it there's lots of pasta and just a few pieces of protein?  You're digging around in the pasta looking for that last piece of shrimp or chicken?  Not so at DeGidio's!  There was at least an equal amount of protein as pasta in each dish.

The arrabiata was delicicous.  I love spicy red sauces.  But....

I tasted one of Dave's meatballs.  Oh my god it was my Grandma Cicero's recipe!  It was amazing.  It brought back so many great memories.  I tasted the house red sauce.  Oh my god, it was almost exactly my grandmother's recipe too.  I couldn't believe it.  We will go back and I'm getting spaghetti and meatballs!

We have LOTS of left overs.  The "dip" was proabably not "splittable" but the arribiata was definately enough for two if you're in the mood to split.  We did our best to finish them... hardly looks like I put a dent in mine.

There was absolutely no room for dessert so we decided next time we go we'll skip the appetizer and get dinner and a dessert.  Their Moscato Berry Tiramisu sounded really good.

The entire bill, including the second-most expensive bottle of wine on the menu, appetizers and dinner that we couldn't hope to finish, was $58!

We'll definitely be back.  There are no (or so we thought) good Italian restaurants in our "neighborhood", now we've found one!  And we're going to try and go on Wednesdays.  That's when Janet works!  And I'll be adding a link to DeGidio's under my favorite places.

It was very odd to come home to a quiet house.  No dogs greeting us acting like we'd been gone days, not hours.  No dogs wondering if what was in the to-go boxes was for them.  They'll be home tomorrow!

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