Oh Broders’, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways…

  • I love that you are the perfect date spot
  • I love your intimate patio that focuses on small plates (many of them grilled) and great wine
  • I love sitting at your pasta bar and visiting with other patrons which inevitably leads to recommendations and discussion about other wonderful restaurants
  • I love your servers (always the same 3) who have been there for years and know your menu inside and out
  • I love your inverted colander lights that give off the perfect soft ambient light
  • I love your pasta (do I even need to mention this??) and unique, unexpected, simple flavor combinations
  • I love your insalate, antipasti, dolci, vino, espresso…

My husband and I went on a date to Broders’ Pasta Bar a couple of weeks ago and as usual, it did not disappoint.  We had the pleasure of sitting at the Antipasto Bar outside and the Pasta Bar inside and we also got to meet and visit with Charlie Broder, the general manager of the restaurant.  Charlie has been working in the restaurant and across the street at Broders’ Cucina Italiana (think deli, takeout, imported products) since he was a child.  While the restaurant is family run, it is interesting that no one in the family is Italian.  The space that the restaurant occupies used to be a gas station and although the restaurant has been open and successful for many years, the location at 50th Street and Penn Avenue in South Minneapolis is still Broders’ only location in the Twin Cities.  Despite lines of hungry customers everyday of the week, Broders’ has not expanded it’s successful business.  And I for one am happy about this.  There is something about waiting for your table with giddy anticipation about what the nightly specials might be and the sheer joy of feeling like you have just won the lottery when they finally tell you that your table is ready.  The wait is always worth it.

 “Ocean City shrimp”, old bay, lemon, olive oil

 polenta cakes with tomato, mushroom & caper ragu

 burrata, local baby lettuce, fava beans & wild arugula

 capellini with crab, red & green chilies, tomato & white wine

 ravioli con prosciutto di parma:  house made goat cheese ravioli with prosciutto di parma & smoked mozzarella

tiramisù

 carrot cake:  cream cheese frosting, pine nuts, honey & carrots

 Ahhh, la dolce vita

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This is my friend kale.  Have you met?  If not, may I propose an introduction?

Pleased to meet you

Kale and I were introduced at my friend Emily’s pre-Thanksgiving party.  Emily and her fiancé host this party every year and, it is just what it sounds like.  Friends gather about a week before the actual holiday and each bring a Thanksgiving dish to share.  Since many of us are with family for the holidays, it is a nice way to make time to give thanks for the friendships in our lives.  Last year was the first year I have been able to attend the party and the dish that I could not stop eating was one that Emily made.  The dish was flavorful, tender and healthy sautéed kale.  Even my husband couldn’t get enough of the green stuff (that’s how good it was).  I told her that I had to have the recipe and she insisted that it was very simple to make and hardly a recipe at all.  She taught me how to prepare it and now sautéed kale with a little garlic, red chili flakes and sea salt is one of our favorite go-to side dishes at my home.  I am very thankful for Emily’s friendship and for all of her wonderful ideas and recipes.

Sauteed Kale

by Mercedes Porter

Keywords: saute side vegan vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 bunch kale (I like the Lacinato variety)
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes

Instructions

Remove ribs from kale leaves and cut or tear kale into medium-sized pieces

Heat olive oil in medium/large sautée pan over medium heat and add garlic

Sautée garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute

Add kale and sprinkle with salt and chili flakes

Cook about 6 minutes or until kale is tender and bright green

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Remove ribs from kale

Use a large pan, but the kale will shrink significantly as it cooks

See how much volume it looses at it cooks??

Another one of my last minute sides this time of year is cherry tomatoes with balsamic vinegar reduction.  Also very simple to make with few ingredients needed, yet a very flavorful accompaniment.

Blistered Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction

by Mercedes Porter

Keywords: saute side vegetarian vegetables

Ingredients

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp basil, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Instructions

Heat olive oil in small sautée pan over medium heat

Add tomatoes, garlic, basil and salt and cook about 2 minutes

Add balsamic vinegar, allow vinegar to come to boil then reduce and simmer about 6 minutes until tomatoes are blistered (skin is split open) and vinegar has reduced and thickened

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Bright flavorful sides to compliment any main dish



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I have mentioned before that my mom was always baking when I was younger.  There was always a cookie jar or freezer full of yummy treats.  As a result of this I didn’t have many processed snacks (thanks mom 🙂 ).  One afternoon when I was a little girl, I returned from a friend’s house and I could not wait to tell my mom about the wonderful cookie I had tasted at my friend’s.  I explained “it was two black crunchy cookies with white frosting in the middle!”  I went on to ask her if she could get the recipe for “those black and white cookies” from my friend’s mom.  My mom laughed and then I learned that you could buy these cookies at the store already made.  I loved my first Oreo and even now if I happen to spot a box of them laying around somewhere, I can’t resist having just one.  So naturally when I came across this recipe for “Oreo cupcakes” I was intrigued and had to give them a try!  There is a cookie surprise at the bottom of the cupcake and the cookies and cream frosting seals this sweet deal.  Enjoy these “black and white” cupcakes sweet teeth!

Cupcakes           (Recipe from Cooks Illustrated courtesy of Bakergirl)

  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa
  • 3/4 cup hot, brewed coffee
  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 6 Tbsp oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 package Oreos
  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Twist Oreos in half and set aside the extra cookies for later. Place the side with cream filling in the bottom of each cupcake liner, cream-side facing up.

These are some mini ones, but for the regular-sized cupcakes I placed an entire half of an Oreo in the liner

  • Place chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl

  • and pour the hot coffee over the mixture. Whisk until smooth and transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely, 20-30 minutes.
  • Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  • Whisk oil, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until batter is smooth.
  • Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups, filling each 3/4 full.

  • Bake until cupcakes are set and firm to the touch, 17-20 minutes. Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

These cupcakes came out of the oven so glistening and beautiful I hated to cover them up! But this frosting is so worth it!

Frosting          (Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats)

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp cream
  • 1 cup Oreos, pulverized to fine powder
  1. Blend cream cheese and butter
  2. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time
  3. Add vanilla and cream
  4. Add crushed Oreos
  5. Frost and garnish with additional Oreos

Recipe linked here


Oreo Cupcakes

by Mercedes Porter

Keywords: bake dessert chocolate cupcake

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa
  • 3/4 cup hot, brewed coffee
  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 6 Tbsp oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 package Oreos

For the frosting

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp cream
  • 1 cup Oreos, pulverized to fine powder

Instructions

For the cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Twist Oreos in half and set aside the extra cookies for later. Place the side with cream filling in the bottom of each cupcake liner, cream-side facing up.

Place chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl and pour the hot coffee over the mixture. Whisk until smooth and transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely, 20-30 minutes.

Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk oil, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until batter is smooth.

Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups, filling each 3/4 full.

Bake until cupcakes are set and firm to the touch, 17-20 minutes. Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting

Blend cream cheese and butter

Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time

Add vanilla and cream

Add crushed Oreos

Frost and garnish with additional Oreos

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I love Mexican food, but I do not always enjoy how I feel after eating it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love enchiladas smothered in cheese and an authentic sauce once in awhile.  But I’m often so miserably full when I am finished that it makes me not want Mexican food for a long time.  So when I am craving the spice and flavors of Mexican food, I find lighter versions of my favorite dishes to make at home.  I will make a southwest chicken salad with rotisserie chicken, dressing made with salsa and ranch and all of my favorite toppings, chicken tortilla soup or tacos with different fillings.  Today, I was craving the light flavors of simply seasoned fish tacos with a quick homemade salsa.

You can add whatever else you like to your salsa, these are just some of my favorite ingredients.

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Hello sweet teeth!

My husband ASKED me to BAKE last week.  No, you do not understand how significant this was.  I imagine that a lot of men would be thrilled to have a wife/girlfriend/significant other who is obsessed with all things food.  I know that my husband appreciates and enjoys the things that I make, but my culinary adventures are often met with comments such as, “Who is going to eat all of this?”  Or “Why would you make graham crackers when you can just buy them?”  So, as I mentioned, when he asked me to bake something for him to bring to work, I was shocked and excited!  He requested something “breakfast-y” and since I had just purchased two pints of plump, juicy blueberries, scones it was!

With all of the seasonal summer fruit coming to its’ peak, I find myself with even more excuses to bake.  I like to take advantage of the produce that we are only able to enjoy for a few short months out of the year in this part of the country.

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(adapted from Martha Stewart)

Blend butter into dry ingredients

….until pea-sized pieces remain

Whisk together eggs and cream

Pour wet ingredients into well created in center of dry ingredients

Once dough comes together, gently mix in blueberries

Pat dough gently and evenly into prepared cake pan

Turn dough out of cake pan onto floured work surface

Cut into equal-sized pieces

Brush scones with remaining egg/cream mixture before baking

Bake until golden brown


Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  1. Blend powdered sugar and lemon juice until well-mixed (add more powdered sugar or lemon juice as necessary to thicken or thin glaze)
  2. Drizzle glaze over cooled scones using a fork

Pass the Earl Grey please!

**My kitchen blooper of the day**

I made two batches of these scones and I ran out of baking powder after the first batch.  Luckily, I have a corner market across the street and so I ran over (covered in flour as usual) and quickly replenished my supply.  Before I purchased the baking powder, I looked at the expiration date (2012) which got me thinking about how long I have probably had my current baking powder.  Although I bake very often, the powder I ran out of had been a backup that I found in the back of my baking cupboard.  Well, let’s just say I recommend that you check your expiration dates!  Look at the difference between the scones made with the expired baking powder and the ones with the newly purchased powder!  They all tasted wonderful but, I learned my lesson.

Made with expired baking powder

Made with new baking powder

This recipe is linked here

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