Market Musings Blog

Season’s Eatings

We get excited around here during the holidays. We love how the holidays bring people together and we love playing a part in people’s celebrations by providing fresh, delicious foods for their holiday spreads.

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Thanksgiving Central

Cranberry_Pecan_Skillet_Stuffing_vertictal web

photo courtesy of strongertogether.coop

Digging through dozens of recipes? Reading Thanksgiving recipes until your eyes weep? We’re keeping it simple! Here’s what we think every memorable Thanksgiving meal needs: Read more …

Iced Coffee – at home or at the co-op

I’m a great fan of high-grown African coffees, but boy—they’re no fan of me! If you’re like me, you should try cold-pressed coffee.

It couldn’t be simpler: the cold-press method tames acidity (and caffeine content, too), producing sweet, brightly flavored cups that can be drunk straight but I prefer to temper with milk. And what better, in summer, than Vietnamese coffee (cà-phê-sua)—that sweet, languorous drink? I think the sharpness of a high-acidity coffee, tamed by cold-press and sweetened condensed milk, yields the best of all possible cups—the perfect drink for sitting on the porch on a scorching-hot Minnesota summer day.

You could win a Co-op Discovery Box! Snap a pic of your cold press coffee. Tag #trythischallenge Twitter/Instagram!

Vietnamese Coffee
Makes 1 cup

6 oz. very concentrated cold-press East African coffee*
1 tablespoon to ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk

1. Stir coffee and milk together.
2. Pour over a glass filled with ice.

*Try Peace Coffee’s Ethiopian—sensational.

New to cold-press coffee?
You can make it using a variety of methods. This one uses a Toddy:

1. Plug the hole in the bottom of the coffee maker, spritz the filter, and place it in the bottom.
2. Add a cup of cold water and 6 ounces of finely ground coffee. Pour in 3 more cups of cold water, slowly circling the measuring cup over the grounds. Add another 6 ounces of coffee, wait 5 minutes, then add another 3 cups of cold water. Don’t stir! But you can lightly tap the grounds that are floating on top to make sure they become wetted (they’ll eventually sink).
3. Allow to steep for 12–18 hours. (You do not have to refrigerate the Toddy.) Decant the coffee by removing the stopper and allowing the coffee to flow into a two-quart glass canning jar. It will keep well in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

But, you can also make it using a French press.

Out and about? Stop by our stores to pick up a Cowfee. You read that right, a Cowfee. It’s an iced latté to-go – cold press, milk and organic cane sugar chilled to cool you down & pick you up. Available now at the Selby store & coming soon to West 7th.

You want cheese on that burger?

Get the coals, make the lemonade, unfold the lawn chairs, get out the boom box, and put the beer on ice. It’s time to bust out that grill and cook up some burgers – sun, or no sun!

No offense to our lactose intolerant and vegan friends, but for me a plain hamburger just won’t do. It’s gotta be a CHEESEburger.  A hamburger without cheese is just like early eighties musical duo Hall and Oates… each excellent on their own, but unmistakably magical when paired together.  While American slices will always be a burger’s best friend, you might want to think about classing your beef, turkey, or veggie patty up with some of our favorite burger toppers.  Here are some of our favorite burger companions.

Burger toppings

(Recommended Grilling Soundtrack)                                  (Very solid layering of burger ingredients)

joe widmer

(excellent early 90’s cheesemaker pose from Joe Widmer)

Widmer’s Two Year Cheddar,Wisconsin- Joe Widmer has been cranking out award winning cheeses for decades. He originally started helping out at his grandpa’s plant when he was six years old. The plant itself has literally been home to three generations of cheesemakers, living directly above the plant. Joe is a certified Master Cheesemaker and we think his Two Year Cheddar is the bee’s knees on top of a burger. Sharp and meltable, this crowd pleasing cheddar will not get lost in a burger that is piled high with your other favorite burger toppings.

Roth Kase Buttermilk Blue, Wisconsin- Roth Kase Buttermilk blue is exactly what it sounds like. A tangy, piquant blue cheese that is mellowed out by a buttery smooth finish thanks to milk from predominantly Jersey cows. Forget about crumbled blue cheese, grab a thick slice of this Raw Milk blue – your gonna want a lot. Blue cheese not really your thing? Try cutting the blue with one of Minnesota’s favorite condiments…mayonnaise.

Somerdale Red Dragon, United Kingdom- This Burger Topper Cheese is a triple threat. Threat No.1- It is fantastic high-moisture (good for melting) cheddar from across the pond. Threat No.2- It already has whole grain mustard seeds in it. The mustard seeds provide all the tang you need for your burger. Threat No. 3- It has beer in it. My personal grilling drink of choice is grained into this multifaceted cheddar. Less is more with this cheese. Full flavored and packed full of mustard, this cheddar can be the predominant flavor of your burger if you’d like.

Abbott’s Gold Carmelized Onion Cheddar, England- This cheese is seriously rich. No need to chop a bunch of onions and painstakingly caramelize them on the stove top. You can skip that step because Abbot’s Gold does it for you. Of our recommended Burger Toppers, this is the cheese that screams…Give me bacon!

And remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Take yourself on a culinary adventure and experiment with other cheeses. If you find any keepers please make sure to stop back into the Market and let us know!
- Kevin L., Selby cheese buyer & cheeseburger connoisseur 

So now you know how we feel about burger toppings, but what about the burger itself? Jay C., our West 7th meat & seafood manager, recommends trying local ground beef from Hill & Vale. The grass-fed, grain-finished beef is super tasty and the flavor is a good balance between 100% grass-fed and 100% grain-fed.

For non-meat-eaters, try a local Trempeleau Walnut Burger on the grill. Or, a grilled portabello mushroom is always delicious on a bun with your favorite burger toppings.

Flavors for Cinco de Mayo

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!Cinco de Mayo is about more than just Mexico’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla- It’s a celebration of Mexican heritage and traditions! This year, we’re highlighting some of our favorite Mexican flavors.

Visit our deli between May 1-6 to pick up some of these delicious salads and entreés:

  • Mango black bean salad
  • Chipotle potato salad
  • Southwestern enchilada pie
  • Green chicken enchilada pie
  • Roasted red pepper quesadillas
  • Pesto chicken quesadillas
  • Tres Leches cake

Saturday and Sunday, May 4 & 5, our deli will be serving a Taste of Mexico in the hot bar – try a variety of Mexican entrées and sides for lunch or dinner.

Our cheese department has sales on Queso Fresco and Cotija – authentic Mexican cheeses to add to your meals.

Plus, our produce departments are stocked with avocados and tomatoes for all your guacamole needs. Tired of your everyday salsa? Try mango salsa! Our mangoes are perfectly ripe and ready for salsa!  Just add diced mango to some minced onion, jalapeño and cilantro and squeeze fresh lime over everything for a fresh way to get your fruits and veggies.

Meet Whole Grain MillingConfused about how to properly cut an avocado or a mango?  Our produce managers show you how in these videos: avocado | mango  

Grab a bag of Whole Grain Milling or La Perla chips – they are both made locally and both work well for scooping guacamole and salsa.

Want to spice up any dish?  We recommend our Mississippi Market Made Chorizo.  Perfectly spiced, this sausage can be added to scrambled eggs, nachos, spicy tortilla soup or anything that needs a kick!

 

Make it, quick! – Grilled cheese & soup

Sometimes we just need something quick & easy for mealtime. In winter, something warm is usually preferred.  Well, one of the most comforting and quickest meals around is grilled cheese & soup. Now through February 26th, you’ll find all you need to make this quick meal on sale:

  • Amy’s organic soups – 2 for $5 (choose from chunky tomato bisque, split pea, lentil and more
  • Local, Milton’s Creamery Prairie Breeze cheddar – 20% off
  • Rudi’s organic sliced bread – $3.29 per loaf

Ask around in our aisles and you’ll find that almost everyone has their favorite way to spruce up their grilled cheese sandwich. Here’s a no-fail recipe from James, our grocery manager at Selby, for a grilled cheese sandwich that brings it up a notch:

Garlic Grilled cheese recipe

The Story of my Dinner, or why I ate blackberry jam on beer bread

Tonight’s meal of homemade blackberry jam, Rustica beer bread, Bent River Camembert and Michigan blueberries began with just blackberries, a big bowl of them sitting on my countertop.  I already had another bowl’s worth of them freezing on a baking sheet in my chest freezer.  And there were more ready to be picked, giant blackberries and more than I’ve ever had in years past.  It was time to make jam.

So I headed off to work at the co-op the next morning with my empty jar for sugar.  All I needed to get for the night’s project was lemons (for extra pectin in
the jam), sugar and jar lids.

But along the way that day, my list started growing. I get some insider information by working for the co-op: like knowing the exact moment the Michigan blueberries arrive, or that Rustica bakery has beer bread every Wednesday.  So after work, my shopping cart was filled with Bent River Camembert, made with grass fed organic milk from Cedar Summit Dairy [Which may or may not be going on sale in August for Eat Local Month, hint, hint], the first Michigan blueberries that arrived minutes before, and a loaf of dark and crusty Rustica beer bread.  How could I resist?  I didn’t know I was going to eat these together until I started making the jam.

Making jam isn’t always pretty.  There’s fruit splashing everywhere, towels stacked up and lots of testing spoons.  Not to mention the heat.

So in the moment of jamming, and the mess, sometimes I lose track of dinnertime and have to make a meal of jam.  This is how beer bread with blackberry jam was born. Partly because it was the only bread in the house and partly because blackberries and beer sound fantastic together, I started my meal with dipping beer bread in the jammy-foam that was skimmed off the top of the simmering jam.

Then I started thinking about that Camembert in the fridge.  It has a grassy flavor this time of year, from the cows grazing on fresh pasture.  It’s just the flavor to insert between the malty, rich beer bread with the bright, sweet-tart jam.  Perfect.

I was just starting to feel guilty about eating mostly sugar and cheese for dinner when I remembered those Michigan blueberries.  Adding fruit rounded everything out and made me feel a lot better about my dinner choices. Nothing like a handful of antioxidants to brighten up a meal.

The blackberry jam is cooling now and my pieced-together dinner is long gone.  The kitchen’s still a mess, but that’s okay.  It’s summer.

_______________________________

Your kitchen should get messy this Saturday- It’s Can It Forward Day!

The Cheesiest – meet our cheesemongers

People find their way to cheesemongering many ways, but I’ve noticed that cheesemongers have a couple of things in common: they tend to be good natured, content in their own company, and 24/7 curious about the object of their desire: cheese.

Mississippi Market’s cheesemongers, Kevin Lewsader (Selby) and Brent Ebensperger (W. 7th), tumbled into the world of cheese almost inadvertently, and both realized quickly that they had landed where they needed to be. Brent was only looking for a foot in Mississippi Market’s door when he was hired to work part-time at the deli:

“After a few months, the cheese department had space for a couple of shifts a week. I ended up getting one of them, and I was hooked. The world of cheese is so content heavy; there’s so much variety. I love how it always has something new hiding around the next corner.”

Brent credits his interest in cheese—and other foods—to his parents:

I was lucky to grow up in a household with parents who knew what good food was. My mother would use cheese like Parmaggiano Reggiano and gruyère in her recipes. I remember at the age of about 10, I had a piece of Dubliner and for the first time I really understood that cheddar doesn’t have to be just plain and yellow but instead can create a taste explosion in your mouth. It can feed you so many different flavors that you can’t count them all.”

Brent’s plans for the cheese department at W. 7th revolve around local cheeses. “We are surrounded by some of the nation’s best cheese makers—for example, Alamar cheese down in Mankato makes an incredible camembert-style cheese that rivals its European counterparts. The Caves of Fairbault are currently making the only sandstone cave-aged blue cheese in the country. A couple from Holland relocated near Thorp, Wisconsin, and are cranking out award-winning raw-milk gouda. So being in the center of all these world-class creameries and keeping our selection as local as possible just makes sense economically and environmentally. In the long run, I hope to grow our cheese selection as much as possible by bringing in new cheeses every month.”

Kevin Lewsader, cheese buyer at the Selby store, also fell into the world of cheese: “I fell in love with cheese when I started working at Mississippi Market, and it has been a torrid love affair ever since. I started in the deli and quickly longed to work in the cheese dept. The giant blocks of crumbly cheddar, glistening 80-pound wheels of Reggiano, slabs of blue cheese that looked like marble, taleggio that stank like a foot but somehow tasted like a dream come true, steaming baths of fresh mozzarella, and a giant, intimidating cheese knife—all of these drew me toward to the mysterious and delicous land of cheese. I learned a lot from a lot of people, including James Talbot, who is now our grocery manager. The more I learned, the more I loved.

Two things I really like about working with cheese are the connection I feel to the many small artisan (and in many cases local) producers who make the cheese I love to eat; there’s an artistry and pride in cheesemaking that is really cool, and I also enjoy being able to sell something that genuinely adds to the enjoyment of people’s lives. There aren’t many things in life that are better than good food.”

One thing Brent and Kevin want you to know?  Brent says, “Store your cheese with care to protect those delicate flavors!  Refrigerators are inherently destructive to cheese—most of them offer no humidity control, air is in constant circulation, and they often contain odors that can permeate your cheese.”

“If you plan on eating the cheese the same day,” Brent continues,  “then don’t even refrigerate it.  To keep your cheese as fresh as possible, wrap it in a piece of parchment paper, folding up the paper’s corners, then loosely wrap it in again plastic wrap, and finally add a layer of tin foil. Then place it in the vegetable crisper- the warmest spot in your fridge. This allows the cheese to breathe while keeping most of the moisture in and odors out. I know it seems like overkill, but this method goes a long ways to preserve that $20/pound piece of cheese you just bought.”

Fondue & Raclette – A new winter tradition

On a cool winter night, the crisp air on the dim streets makes you just cold enough to welcome the warmth of a fondue restaurant. The windows are all steamed up, making it impossible to see inside. When you walk inside, the pungent smell of melting cheese and white wine envelopes you and pulls you in.  The mood in these restaurants is always festive. The sound of a number of conversations taking place at the same time invites you to take your coat off and stay awhile.

It was in a restaurant such as this that I spent my first Thanksgiving abroad. I was living in Fribourg, a town right on the edge of French-speaking Switzerland and German-speaking Switzerland. In fact the town itself is divided, with French spoken in the city-center and German spoken in the valley surrounding it.

Fribourg, Switzerland, home of a most magnificent fondue.

Fribourg is also home to what is reputedly the world’s best fondue – Fondue moitie-moitie (half & half) made with half Gruyere and half Vacherin Fribourgois, both made right there in the foothills of the Alps.

I was introduced to raclette on a ski vacation in Valais during Christmas break. I had no idea that melted cheese over boiled potatoes and cut pickles could be so satisfying!

The amazing fondue moitie-moitie

One of my favorite things about both fondue and raclette is that they’re communal – everyone sticking their forks into the hot pot of cheese, spinning them to catch just the right amount on the broken bread.

Or in the case of raclette, sliding your cheese into the grill and waiting for it to melt. This is all really conducive to conversation. Plus, there is always something being passed around – a basket of bread, a bottle of white wine (to help with digestion, they say); and in the case of raclette, typically little pickles, boiled potatoes, cocktail onions. By the end of the meal, one feels warm and satisfied and very happy.

The memories are enough to make me wonder why I didn’t bring this winter tradition home with me. This year, I’ll be asking for a fondue pot for Christmas.

Tradition Swiss raclette Photo courtesy of cookingwithali.wordpress.com

If your interested in learning more about fondue & raclette, take a class by Mary Jo Rasmussen & Kelly Smeltzer on the basics of a successful fondue, what cheeses work best and how to add flavor to your fondue. They’ll also serve a traditional Swiss raclette, where the cheese is melted and then scraped onto diners’ plates.

Local Profile: Rochdale Farms

Spring Special: Rochdale’s 18 month Aged Goat Cheddar
Only $9.99/lb (Regularly $11.99/lb) • On sale through June 30, 2011

Meet one of the goats responsible for Rochdale Farms’ 18 month aged goat cheddar.

A favorite producer here at Mississippi Market, Rochdale Farms Cheese is locally and cooperatively owned.  Rochdale Farms is the creation of Mary Bess Michaletz and Bentley Lein. It was created with the intention to foster the growth of small local dairy producers and to create delicious and creative cheeses.  Rochdale sells all of their cheeses exclusively to natural food cooperatives.

Most of the milk Rochdale uses comes from a network of over 325 small Amish family farms spread across Wisconsin and Minnesota. These family run farms take an extraordinary amount of care into the treatment of their animals and their land. Each farm has a small single heard of cows or goats that is milked by hand every day. The extremely fresh milk is brought to K&K creamery, in traditional milk cans, where it is produced and is overseen by Master cheese maker Tom Torkelson.

Rochdale makes affordable everyday favorites such as organic Mild & Sharp Cheddar, Provolone, and String Cheese. In addition, they have also created a tremendous line of artisan cheese. Unique and hand-made, this line includes Cellar Aged Gouda, Cave-Aged Blue, Reserve Alpine Emmentaller, and Extra Aged Goat Cheddar. Mississippi Market is excited to offer this line of cooperatively made cheese.