From turkey legs to chicken and couscous, 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.
Heirloom Tomato Tart
Despite the past week’s glorious weather, the end of the growing season — and, with it, the outdoor farmers market season — is an inevitability. That means we’ll be saying goodbye to locally cultivated tomatoes. Cue the tears.
Until then, this highly recommended recipe really makes the most of those treasures. It’s also easy to prepare and comes together quickly because it relies on two labor-saving shortcuts: premade pie dough, and premade pesto.
Here’s a tip (for non-vegetarians, anyway): Always keep a supply of locally produced Pappy’s Pie Crust Dough in the freezer. Made with lard and a supermarket staple since 1966, it rolls out beautifully and bakes into tender, golden flakiness.
But despite those helpful cheaters, the results, in terms of both appearance and taste, announce that you fussed (no one needs to know otherwise), and that ever-enticing combination of tomatoes and basil is an ideal way to celebrate the last glimmers of summer. Find the recipe below. (Rick Nelson)
An Instagram-fueled obsession this week led me to Nashville Coop’s new headquarters on St. Paul’s Snelling Avenue, not for the chicken but for this mammoth cookie that’s been lighting up social media. (Who am I kidding? For the chicken, too.)
Turns out, one of Nashville Coop’s founders, Kamal Mohamed (who’s also known as Kamal Minneapple) was the driver behind the creation of a cookie that could hold its own against the restaurant’s wildly spicy (and popular) chicken strips and sandwiches. When he was living in New York, a friend handed him a cookie from Levain Bakery. Thick and craggy and jammed with chocolate and nuts, Levain’s cookies are kind of a legend.
“I’d been thinking about it ever since,” he said.
The entrepreneur thought the Twin Cities could use a cookie like that one, and he tried — and failed — to reproduce one on his own. That’s where his friends, spouses Sarah and Sahr Brima, come in. Sarah, a speech and language pathologist, took on the challenge of re-engineering that Levain cookie and nailed it.
The three of them went into partnership together, launching Love You, Cookie in late August, first on the Nashville Coop food truck, and then indoors when the hot chicken business went brick and mortar last month. You’ll find the $4 monster of a cookie, loaded with dark chocolate and cashews and sprinkled with sea salt, behind a glass case on Nashville Coop’s counter.
“The part that was intriguing to me is that it’s different from a typical cookie,” Sarah said. “It’s huge, first of all. There’s this balance you get. It’s crispy on the outside and gooey on inside. People have said, ‘I feel like I’m eating a scone.’ It’s a different consistency, but also a chocolate chip cookie at the same time.”
Sahr, an attorney, added: “It’s what every chocolate chip cookie has been trying to be forever.”
“We’re excited about this concept and getting it out everywhere,” Sahr said. “The cookie sells itself.” (Sharyn Jackson)
Find them at Nashville Coop, 300 Snelling Av. S., St. Paul. Open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Tue.-Sun. Follow them on Instagram for other locations.
Turkey leg from the Minnesota Renaissance Festival on Parade
Shut out of tickets to the extension of the Minnesota State Fair’s drive-through Food Parade? The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is having its own, complete with giant pretzels, fries, cheese curds and other fair fare.
If you’re missing State Fair name brands, such as Mouth Trap and Sweet Martha’s, this won’t hit the spot. But if you find yourself craving a caveman’s feast of smoked turkey, hot and dripping from the bone and served by a wench in period clothing, this event has you covered.
Entry is $20 (not including food), and grants you a slow motorized crawl past sleepy village facades. Costumed staffers come to your window to take your orders for food as well as souvenirs as you roll past their stations. The best find, besides the turkey leg? Beaked plague doctor masks. Who knew 2020 would make the Renaissance so relevant? (S.J.)
3525 145th St. W., Shakopee. Hourly entries 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.-Sun., through Oct. 18.
Chicken couscous at Moroccan Flavors
My appetite for comfort food continues unabated. Since this particular craving frequently ends up translating into “chicken,” I was delighted to find myself at this Midtown Global Market star, run by spouses Hassan Ziadi and Samlali Raja.
The key here is the marinade, a fragrant alchemy of ginger, turmeric, garlic, preserved lemon and parsley. Post-braise, Ziadi fashions a sauce from that stewed marinade, fortifying it with slightly sweet onions. The results are lovely, legions beyond the yawn-inducing chicken that I’ve been preparing all these months.
It’s served with seasonal vegetables — right now, that means squash, carrots, cabbage and chickpeas — and available with couscous or turmeric-scented rice.
“Me, I like couscous,” said Ziadi. “But I’ve learned something here in Minneapolis, and that’s people like options. The more options you give, the better you look.”
The portion is more than generous; what’s pictured here is a fraction of the vegetables and couscous, and the chicken’s tender, juicy meat can only be described as “plentiful.” Leftovers are a given. At $9.95, this meal, which holds up well as takeout, ranks as one of the Twin Cities’ great values. (R.N.)
In the Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St., Mpls., 651-410-0361. Open 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.
Special Yum! Bar at Yum! Kitchen and Bakery
If only all get-out-the-vote campaigns involved classic 9-by-13 pan bars.
One reason why this version of the Special K Bar — also know as Chocolate Scotcheroos — has been a Yum! fixture is because owner Patti Soskin grew up making them.
“I started cooking when I was really young,” she said. “And they’re easy to make.”
At Yum!, these breakfast cereal-based goodies mostly adhere to the familiar formula, right down to the peanut butter bite. Still, Soskin takes one deluxe detour. For the key finishing touch, she relies upon a decadent and glossy dark chocolate ganache, which advances this crunchy-chewy bar beyond home cooking territory.
Soskin has been in a get-out-the-vote mode for weeks. Beyond using frosting (and patriotic sprinkles) to telegraph her nonpartisan message, she has quietly been inserting artist-designed stickers from the #turnuptheturnout campaign into the restaurant’s takeout packaging.
She’s upping the ante on Friday by playing host to artist Brandon Litman, who will be spray painting his (free) posters and lawn signs. They feature his stencil of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the word “Vote” (and the hashtag #voteRUTHLESS). Litman is a driving force behind kindly.org, which is using technology to improve volunteer opportunities.
For this one-day-only event, find him outside the restaurant from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.
Soskin picked up a poster last weekend after spotting Litman in action at the Mill City Farmers Market.
“I heard him say that he was going to be at the Minneapolis Farmers Market the next day,” she said. “So I went and basically stalked him and eventually said, ‘I would love to have you come to our restaurant.’ ”
Turns out, Litman’s benefactors, spouses Charlie Rounds and Mark Heimenz, are Yum! neighbors and customers.
“I love what Patti said, which was, ‘I want to blanket St. Louis Park with these signs,’” said Rounds. “We’re not telling people who to vote for. Mark and I just want to put our money into ways to get out the vote, and we see this as being effective because Brandon is so bright and talented and innovative and pragmatic.”
Drop by, pick up a poster and vote. And don’t forget about indulging in an enormous Special Yum! Bar ($3.95).
“I swear to god, people are eating more desserts than ever before,” said Soskin with a laugh. “It’s these times.” (R.N.)
4000 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-922-4000. Open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.
Heirloom Tomato Tart
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: This recipe, adapted from the New York Times, is fairly flexible. The original recipe called for sliced heirloom tomatoes, but they seemed too juicy (a few tips: roast them for 10 to 15 minutes, or sprinkle them with the recipe’s salt and then place them in the colander, or pat them dry with paper towels after draining them). I had a variety of cherry tomatoes on hand, and liked the results. Instead of mozzarella, try goat cheese, and add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard when whisking the eggs and cream.
• Store-bought dough for a 9-in. single crust pie, rolled into an 11-in. round
• 1 pint cherry tomatoes (or about 4 medium heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/2-in. slices)
• 1/4 c. store-bought pesto
• 3/4 c. shredded mozzarella (about 3 oz.)
• 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
• 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
• 3 eggs
• 1/3 c. heavy cream
• 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Place in a colander to drain excess tomato liquid for 20 minutes, or place cut-side down on paper towels.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fit the rolled-out dough into a 9-inch tart pan, allowing the edges to rise about 1/4 inch above the rim of the pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork.
Line the dough with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes until crust is beginning to brown at the edges. Remove from oven and carefully remove the foil and weights. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Spread pesto in an even layer over the par-baked tart crust. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the pesto. Sprinkle the basil and oregano over the cheese.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper until combined.
Place the sliced tomatoes evenly over the cheese and herbs in a decorative pattern. Pour the custard evenly over the tomato slices. Swirl the pan to evenly distribute the liquid. Bake until the filling is set and won’t jiggle when shaken, about 35 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving warm. This tart can also be served at room temperature.
Sharyn Jackson • @SharynJackson
Rick Nelson • @RickNelsonStrib