From dumplings to dalgona coffee, here’s a rundown of our dining diaries’ greatest hits over the past seven days. What were your top eats of the week? Share the details in the comments section.
Chicken shawarma dinner at Foxy Falafel
True confessions: I’ve been devoting most of my takeout energies to revisiting old favorites, a comfort-seeking exercise that has yet to disappoint. This dinner was an especially happy one, because it’s been ages since I’ve reveled in chef/owner Erica Strait’s fabulous chicken shawarma. We ordered it platter-style, and what a spread it was, a feast of appealing flavors, colors and textures. The tender, brightly seasoned chicken is paired with crunchy pickled vegetables, a rice pilaf that’s quietly enhanced with preserved lemon and a silky, garlicky hummus. A cool yogurt sauce, dressed with cucumber and mint, is nicely countered by a feisty harissa. Dinner for two is $35. Order by noon. Curbside pickup, 5-7 p.m. Fri.-Sat. (Rick Nelson)
791 Raymond Av., St. Paul, 612-888-2255
Turkey mo:mos at Gorkha Palace
I became obsessed with these steamed dumplings years ago, after encountering them at the Mill City Farmers Market stand that Rashmi Bhattachan and Sarala Kattel used to launch their restaurant. There are vegetarian and bison versions, but I seem to be forever gravitating to the mo:mo ($8) filled with ground turkey (raised at Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls, Minn.), cabbage, ginger and garlic. I wish that Bhattachan and Kattel would bottle and sell their slightly sweet, slightly hot tomato chutney, because it’s that good. Curbside pickup, 4:30-8:30 p.m. daily. (R.N.)
23 4th St. NE., Mpls., 612-886-3451
I already baked bread, and I have a green onion regenerating on my windowsill. This week, I tried another hot food trend, dalgona coffee. It’s one of many recipes and kitchen hacks — like sourdough starters and windowsill gardens — that have gone viral in recent weeks, as home cooks go stir crazy. This one is named after a Korean candy, kind of like honeycomb, or a hardened, airy caramel. As a drink, it’s merely whipped coffee. You start with a 1:1:1 ratio of instant coffee, sugar and water, and whisk it till your arm falls off. Or just use a stand mixer, as I did. When the mixture lightens to the color of milk chocolate and becomes as fluffy as meringue, drop a large dollop over a glass of milk on ice. I used a tablespoon of Medaglia d’Oro instant espresso, which I keep in the baking pantry for chocolate desserts. The intensity of the coffee and sugar reminded me of a Greek frappé, a delightfully caffeinated instant coffee drink I enjoyed when I spent a summer in Greece after college. Locals warned me never to drink more than one in a sitting, and I rarely heeded them, willing to accept the crash that came down hard after the delicious buzz wore off. Not willing to do that to my body many years later, I let one sip of rich, creamy dalgona coffee be enough. Next time, I’ll try it with instant decaf. (Sharyn Jackson)
Al pastor pizza at Prieto Taqueria Bar
It was Cinco de Mayo this week, so tacos were in order. I had been looking forward to takeout from Alejando Castillon’s Lyndale-and-Lake spot for a while, and I loaded up on tacos: crispy shrimp tempura, fried yuca sticks with a coating the color of Cheetos, and Castillon’s divine smoked brisket. But the real surprise from that meal was pizza ($13), a last-minute add to my cart. It’s topped with taco fillings, but ‘taco pizza’ this is not.
Castillon’s housemade dough comes piled with a long-simmering tomato sauce, sautéed onions, Parmesan cheese, and a heavy-duty helping of his signature meats: that smoked brisket, grilled chicken, and pork al pastor. I selected the juicy, chopped pork, which is rubbed in a paste of three chiles, roasted tomatillos, orange juice and epazote. I don’t believe there’s a wrong choice, but I definitely chose right.
The pizza is a recent add to Castillon’s menu. It was inspired by a recent trip to Mexico, where he saw a pizza fad taking off, with toppings like chilaquiles and chile rellenos. He started making it only a couple weeks before the state ordered dining rooms to close. So, when he reopened his restaurant for takeout about two weeks ago, he was sure to include it on his pared down menu. Other newer additions for Prieto: burritos and wings. They’re not traditional in Castillon’s native Sonora, but it’s what the people want, he says. “I kind of hate burritos,” he laughed. But right now, it’s all about comfort food, the kind best enjoyed on the couch. “I watch a movie, and it’s perfect for burritos, or pizza, or wings,” he said. “People love it, so why not?” Delivery and curbside pickup, 3-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat. (S.J.)
701 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-428-7231
Chicken, shrimp and sausage paella
I’ve been using this recipe as a guide ever since my friends Julie and Amy — two of the most adventurous and inspiring cooks I have ever known — introduced it to me in the late 1980s. Minnesotans are a natural for paella, since it’s basically a stovetop rice hot dish. It’s also flexible, and can incorporate pretty much whatever is (or isn’t) available; this time around, I couldn’t find littleneck clams, so I really leaned into shrimp. Three other bonuses: paella comes together with little fuss, it never fails to impress and the leftovers are first-rate. Don’t have a paella pan? Kitchen Window and Cooks of Crocus Hill keep them in stock (and both retailers also sell the imported Spanish rice that’s ideal for paella) or use the widest skillet in your kitchen. (R.N.)
Note: Paella is highly adaptable to whatever is on hand, whether it’s vegetables, herbs or seafood. If you don’t have white wine, use chicken stock, or water. Adapted from “The Sixty Minute Gourmet” by Pierre Franey.
• 1 c. chicken stock
• 1/2 tsp. saffron
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 4 sweet or hot Italian sausages (or any sausages you prefer), cut into bit-size pieces
• 1 lb. boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 1/4 c. short-grain rice
• 1 green pepper, cored, seeded and sliced into ribbons or 1-inch cubes
• 1 sweet red bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced into ribbons or 1-inch cubes
• 1 onion, chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes (tomatoes cut into pieces), juices included
• 1 large bay leaf
• 2 sprigs thyme
• 12 littleneck clams, scrubbed (optional)
• 12 shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 3 tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring chicken stock to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in saffron (if threaded, crumble between fingers before adding to stock) and set aside.
In a large paella pan over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add sausages and cook, turning often, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and reserve.
Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook about 10 minutes, turning about halfway through and cooking until browned on both sides. Return sausages to the pan and add rice, green pepper, red bell pepper, onion and garlic. Stir in chicken stock and wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. Evenly scatter tomatoes and add bay leaf and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring liquid to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low, cover with aluminum foil (loosely crimping it around the pan’s edges) and cook 15 to 20 minutes. Stir, recover and cook until moisture mostly disappears and rice starts to soften, another 10 to 15 minutes. Arrange clams (optional) and shrimp on top paella and cook until clams open up and shrimp is cooked through, about 5 additional minutes. Remove from heat, remove (and discard) bay leaf and thyme sprigs, garnish with parsley and serve from the pan.