Market Musings Blog

Fish Friday: A Tea Take on Tuna

Tea Tuna cooking webMy last contribution to Market Musings was all about tea, and ever since there’s been an ever so quiet whisper in my head to actually cook with matcha powder again.  This powdered form of green tea has a very distinct flavor, and, if used correctly, can yield itself a magical secret ingredient in a number of dishes.  On top of this, my wife and I have been trying to add more fish into the meal rotation and went looking for a simple and new fish-based recipe that I could make something unique out of.  Google brought me to this recipe for seared tuna with a wasabi butter sauce, which seemed like it would be pretty easy to modify…and all but one ingredient can be found at Mississippi Market (PS, dear MN legislature, please let grocery stores like co-ops sell wine):

One handy feature of the recipe’s site was the ability to adjust the portion; I set the recipe for 4 servings so that I would be sure to have extra sauce to add if needed.  The ingredient list I used was a little different:

¾ cup of white wine
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons minced scallions (the green bits sliced and set aside for garnish)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2/3 cups unsalted butter
Tea Tuna cooked web1.5 teaspoons of wasabi powder (more or less to your own taste)
1 tablespoon of matcha powder
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 ahi tuna steaks
~2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

I followed the directions given on the recipe, which is all pretty simple—less than 40 minutes from start to finish for everything.  I used scallions and garlic instead of shallots and left out the cilantro (because, sadly, it was the one thing I forgot to put on the shopping list).  Towards the end of making the butter sauce, I mixed the wasabi and matcha powders in a small bowl with just enough water to make a thin slurry, then added this in with the wine and butter mixture—this way there was no risk of the tea flavor cooking out.  For side value, I cooked up a bit of white rice, asparagus, and red peppers.  After plating up all the solids, we drizzled the matcha wasabi butter sauce over everything, and it turned out to be a very tasty meal.

Tea Tuna plated web

A quick cautionary word on matcha: If you’ve ever had green tea made from this powder, you know it can be an acquired taste.  It’s almost like green tea concentrate—a little can go a *long* way.  This being an experimental recipe on my part, I just guessed at using a tablespoon, which turned out fine for us.  It’s certainly the type of thing you can start with just a little, and add more in any time before you actually dish up—the same goes for wasabi powder.  Be warned: this sauce as we made it has a very strong flavor.  Not spicy or pungent, just bold in the way matcha and wasabi can be.  It works *very* well on the tuna, but we found it quickly overpowering when paired with rice alone.

Celebrating Mardi Gras

A good meal can offer a transcendent experience for those who truly enjoy food. If you’ve ever shared a really good meal with friends, or been transported to your childhood just by smelling your mom’s chicken noodle soup, you understand the power food has beyond the ability to nourish us physically. I view food as a kind of social glue, it is a tie that helps bind us to our communities and our cultures.

As a transplant to the Twin Cities, often the only connection I have with my Louisiana heritage is through the creole and cajun food I recreate in my own kitchen. My cultural connections have become especially important to me as I grow older and finally understand the need to connect to my personal and communal histories. While many of us in the Twin Cities are bundled up to face another icy day, many people in my home state will already be reveling in the warmth of Mardi Gras festivities.

king cake web

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, may have some detractors because of its association with drunken debauchery but I have so many wonderful memories of this holiday that have nothing to do with alcohol or Bourbon Street. Mardi Gras for me will always call forth memories of colored beads, fantastical parades, masks of many colors, and of course, delicious King Cake covered in gobs of gold, purple, and green sprinkles.

Since I can’t make it down this year for a real Louisiana version of the King Cake, I decided that I’d try my hand at making one myself. The name of this confection is a bit of misnomer since the process of making a King Cake is less like making cake and more like making bread. I usually try to describe it as a cinnamon roll that’s been made into a ring and then covered with glaze and colored sugars. If you’re interested in turning your boring Minnesota Tuesday into a bona fide Fat Tuesday, you can try your hand at the recipe I found to be most successful. Or, if baking bread in the middle of the week is more than you have energy for then try a simple jambalya. Either way, enjoy the connection that food helps you make with cultures, yours or the many others surrounding you.

You’ll also find Jess at the Selby store’s juice bar, making things run smoothly and tasting amazing!

Tea – finding the perfect mug

That great warming morning beverage, that iced and sun-brewed afternoon cup, or that mug at the end of the day to help the sleep come.  Mmmm, tea.

tea plantNot being able to stand the taste of coffee, in high school I turned to tea to help get that morning caffeine kick or power through the night-before-the-due-date papers, and in the years since, I’ve really tried to develop a wider appreciation for the drink, its history, and its various forms.  Given the variety of flavors and styles out there, it’s very surprising to remember that it all tracks back to one species of plant, and it’s up to the drying, cooking, aging, and flavoring to get to that final, unique product.

When thinking about tea, most people might first name the bitter green teas or the standard black or earl grey blends (hot or iced), or perhaps mention some of the health benefits to tea drinking.  Mississippi Market has a wide selection of teas, ranging from the classic stand-bys to herbal blends with extra, healthy characteristics to the occasional seasonal specialties.  Looking to try something new, or have a favorite style and want to get a lot at one time?  Check out the bulk teas, by the herbs and spices.  Bulk vs. bagged?  I usually buy bulk, because when I sit down to get school work done, I’ll often go through a pot as a time.  Also, I find that loose-leaf tea has a stronger flavor than the bagged varieties.  However, sometimes nothing beats the convenience of being able to drop a bag in a mug of hot water while getting groceries stocked out in the morning!  Many of my favorite teas can be found on the co-op’s shelves; here are some suggestions on what to check out next:

Lapsang Souchong has become one of my morning standbys ever since I moved to working early shifts because it’s hard to over-steep and it’s got a pretty high caffeine content.  This tea is one of very few to be dried by smoking, and the pinewood used in the process imbues a bold smokiness that comes across in both aroma and flavor (very reminiscent in this to another brown beverage I enjoy from Islay.  Somewhat sadly, we don’t currently offer a smoked tea in bulk, but I’m a fan of the Taylor’s of Harrogate box—50 tea bags for under 9 bucks!

pu-erh tea brick

A pu-erh brick

Second on my favorites list is also my newest passion: Pu-erh.  This ancient Chinese-style tea (which you may find in a variety of spellings) is processed in a fascinating way.  Leaves are usually air-dried, then lightly pan-toasted to stop the natural enzymatic processes within them.  At this point, the leaves are allowed to ferment over the course of multiple months, during which time the chemicals that give tea it’s normally characteristic bitterness are all but eliminated and the anti-oxidant levels rise in replacement.  The end product steeps into an incredibly smooth, earthy-tasting tea, often looking as dark as coffee.  We offer pu-erh in bulk loose-leaf, and at specialty tea shops you might be able to find bricks, where the leaves have been highly compressed to preserve the flavors.

Blue Flower Earl Grey is one of my wife’s favorites (as I think it appeals to her sweet tooth without actually being sweetened).  This blend is a standard Earl Grey (black tea with a touch of citrus oil) with dried petals of blue malva flowers.  The oils from the flower give an ever-so-light floral essence to the tea, which helps to mellow the boldness that often comes with the typical Earl Grey, and the ever-so-slight natural sweetness that’s hard not to enjoy.

Jasmine_PearlsJasmine Pearl is another slightly sweet tea you can find in the bulk set.  The fresh, still-green leaves are hand-rolled, dried, and then set overnight in a room of jasmine flowers at their peak of fragrance; even this short exposure is enough to turn the pearls from just green tea to something magical.  A fun aspect to steeping pearls of tea is watching them unfurl as they sit in water; I find this a reminder that tea is in fact a leaf, not a bag of dried herbs. Want to see what I mean?  Try some!

While talking about green teas, matcha also comes to mind.  Most people see the green powder and think of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, which makes prominent use of the fine-ground leaves.  However, having matcha around can help bring tea out of the mug; it’s strong flavor and light color lend themselves to a number of food uses, such as cakes, frostings, ice cream, smoothies, and light cream sauces for desserts, salads, and entrees alike.

Lastly, let’s not forget about chai.  While the chai lattes offered in many coffee shops today are often very milky and sweet, it’s really easy to make a calorie-friendly spiced tea bev for yourself at home.  We carry a couple different bagged forms (from Tazo and Tulsi, for example), as well as the 500 Mile Chai in bulk.  Prepare as directed, and add just a splash of milk and maybe a pinch of sugar—sweetened condensed milk works well, too—and this way you can control the interplay of the spice, sweet, and fat to make your perfect mug.

Ben Zamora-Weiss is a staff member and blogger for Mississippi Market’s Eat Local Challenge. As mentioned above, you’ll also find him at the Selby store keeping the shelves stocked with the best locally baked breads we can find.

Hey, there’s a game on!

Chicago-Bears-SuperBowl-ShuffleIf truth be told, there are only two Super Bowls from over the years that I really remember. The first is the 1985 Super Bowl with the Super Bowl Shuffle Chicago Bears vs. the New England Patriots. The Bear’s song would have been enough to capture my 4th grade self’s attention and awe. But, it seems that I was also looking for a way to wage a small rebellion against my dad.

You see, I grew up in Wisconsin and there were few things that would rile my dad up like a Packers Game would. The Packers were pretty bad back then and I could not understand why he would want to root for a losing team. So, I chose the Bears as my team. If you know any Packer fans from the ’80s, you can appreciate how much this irked my dad. I ate it up. At some point during the season, I actually started paying attention to the games and understanding the rules. By the time the Super Bowl came around, much to my father’s chagrin, I was pretty invested.

favreThe second Super Bowl I remember was in 1997. By this point I had changed my tune, left the Bears behind and embraced my roots (I know, fair-weather fan). I was ready to cheer the Packers onto victory against the New England Patriots (Sorry, Patriots fans). I even called my dad to share the good news! I doned my green and gold. I hung a sheet I’d spray painted announcing my allegience to Wisconsin outside the house. I invited all my friends and passed around enough plates of Wisconsin cheese and sausage to make my dad proud. I was all in.

I remember the fun of getting behind a team and going a little over the top with it. But, the real reason I remember this game has nothing to do with football. It has to do with the tall, thin, bearded fellow who walked into the party with no interest what-so-ever in the Packers. This year, we’ll be watching our 17th Super Bowl together (everyone now… Aww!)

So, yes, the Super Bowl holds a special place in my heart. Plus, it gives me something to look forward to in the dead of winter. It’s a reason to chill out with friends. It still gives me something to talk about with my dad. And, increasingly, it’s a reason to take snacking to a higher level.

Whether your a football fan or not, don’t be shy – make some memories during the Super Bowl this year.

Recipe Cards header

Ingredients
1 bag local La Perla tortilla chips
Mississippi Market Made chorizo
1/2 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup local Snappy Dog or Salsa Lisa salsa
local Fancy Brand cheddar cheese, shredded
local Chippewa Valley habañero jack cheese, shredded
local Organic Valley sour cream (optional)

Method

  • Arrange the tortilla chips on 1-2 rimmed baking sheets in a single layer.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add bite-sized pieces of chorizo.
  • Cook chorizo until browned and thoroughly cooked. Drain any fat off with a slotted spoon. Sprinkle the chorizo over the chips.
  • Stir together black beans with salsa and spoon over chips.
  • Generously distribute the shredded cheeses over the chips, chorizo and beans.
  • Broil the nachos for just a few minutes, until cheese is melted and slightly browned (watch these closely!).
  • Serve nachos immediately with cool sour cream and extra salsa for dipping.

Cooking Tip: You can prepare a single-serving of these nachos in a toaster oven !

 

 

Get your greens!

Hearty greens are perfect for winter meals – they pack a nutritious punch of vitamins and minerals. Dark leafy greens are known for being high in iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and carotenoids, as well as many anticancer factors. If you haven’t cooked greens before, don’t be shy! They are one of the quicker, easier vegetable to prepare. Here are some of our favorite ways to get our greens.

kale webChickpeas, sausage & kale

Ingredients (serves 2)
Olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 large can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 uncooked sausages, sliced into rounds or chopped
1 bunch kale, chard or spinach (rinsed and stems removed), chopped
Beer, wine, or water
Salt & pepper to taste Read more …

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.

C

Read more …

A Vegan on Turkey Day

Have you ever been the lone vegan at a Thanksgiving celebration in Texas?  It’s not easy, let me tell you.

My Southern family includes a few types of turkeys, a ham and brisket at most Thanksgivings. Corn is swimming in cream cheese sauce and you can bet the drippings are included in every gravy and side dish possible.  And asking for the ingredients for each dish at a potluck? Forget it!

Liz's meemaw made sure that she didn't go hungry during Thanksgiving by going out of her way to prepare a few dedicated, vegan dishes.

Liz’s meemaw made sure that she didn’t go hungry during Thanksgiving by going out of her way to prepare a few dedicated, vegan dishes.

Luckily, I had a grandma who would make me a special little pan of stuffing/dressing made with vegetable broth and set aside some sweet potatoes without butter and marshmallows. She was a gem!

I know guests with special diets can be a pain for the host, but I can also vouch for us being the most appreciative when someone makes an extra effort to accommodate our needs.  Most of us with dietary restrictions know that hopes of getting an amazing meal at a big holiday celebration are likely to lead to disappointment.  So when a host goes out of the way to have a gluten free pie or a vegetarian main dish, it makes a big impression.  I’ll always remember the extra effort my grandma took to make sure I had plenty to eat. Read more …

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 …

Warm breakfast ideas

I had a realization this week. I looked down at my staple summer breakfast -a bowl of fruit, yogurt and granola- and was no longer satisfied. It just wasn’t what I wanted anymore. I wanted something heartier. I wanted something… warm.

Luckily I work here, where everyone is talking about (or eating) food, all the time. Apparently, I wasn’t the only craving something different for breakfast. As I strolled around the office, I noticed that Lauren had unpacked her Oatmeal-in-a-jar and Luke was eating a hot breakfast sandwich at his desk.

Beyond those two stand-bys around here, I was also pointed to these two recipes, both warm & hearty, yet satisfying in different ways. Read more …

Extreme Local – Wild Foraging

Before I start: wild foraging can be very dangerous. The amount of mushrooms that are fatally poisonous are relatively small, but there are a great many that will make you wish you were dead and cause serious illness. You should never eat a mushroom unless you are 100% confident in identifying it. There are a great many resources if you would like to get into wild foraging, but it should be approached with a healthy respect and only after much study. DO NOT EAT WILD MUSHROOMS ON A WHIM.

Chicken of the woods on tree

Chicken of the Woods, too old, but still pretty cool.

I am an outdoors person. I love hunting and camping, and when morel season hits in spring I am in the woods nearly every weekend. This year, I have decided to enjoy some of the local foraging that can be had in mid-summer months.

Ok, morel season is easy: little undergrowth, very distinctive mushrooms, little to no mosquitos and hardly any ticks. All of these things have made it a trendy thing to do, amateurs beating down trails to every dead elm tree in state parks around Minnesota. And with good reason, morels are delicious.

Mid-summer mushroom hunting has been about as far from that as possible. Minnesota mixed hardwood forests are hot, full of bugs, poison ivy, buckthorn, wild berries, stinging nettle, and a fair amount of other hidden pitfalls. I have found mushrooms that I have picked, learned to do a spore print, and identified them with some confidence. Only then to throw them out because doubt about my knowledge crept in (this is normal and a healthy thing). I have worn poison ivy rashes with pride for a good portion of the summer. I have invested in what I call a hippie basket, a bandaloo (which I have already lost), spent a small fortune on gas driving to state parks, and shirked some responsibilities.

Chicken gnocci with chicken of the woods

Chicken gnocci without the kale, subbing thyme in its place, and with whole wheat gnocci

Despite this, the exhilaration that I felt when I saw my first mass of orange Chicken of the Woods* was just as exciting as any morel patch I have found. Finding lobster mushrooms buried in leaves was worth the mosquito bites (technically my lovely wife found our first lobster). And wild mushroom gnocchi shared with friends and family? Good grief.

*Mississippi Market carries wild, foraged mushrooms from time to time, so it is possible to cook with them without foraging. Call ahead before making a special trip.

Here is the recipe:
Wild Mushroom Gnocchi, serves 2-3

ingredients
1 med onion, diced ½ inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
A large mass of wild mushroom, your choice on variety, all have been excellent – usually around .5 lbs, or you could use button, but the earthy flavor of the wild mushroom is what makes this dish. Tear/cut/break the mushroom into bite size pieces. Be sure to clean the mushroom, ideally using a brush of some kind, not in water. Mushrooms really soak up liquid and it is ok to wash them in water, but it will alter how this dish cooks and you may need to cut the rest of the water out of the recipe entirely.
2T Olive oil – you may need a little more if you are frying a large amount of mushroom, they tend to soak up liquids
1 package of Cucina Viva gnocchi
1 half of a bunch of dino kale, or a sautéing green of your choice, rough shred/julienne
1 table spoon Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Stock
1.5 cups water

Equipment:
1 14” sauce pan, with 1.5 inch sides, or some equivalent
1 stock pot to boil gnocchi
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Fry the onion, garlic, mushroom together stirring often on medium high heat until your onion just starts to become translucent. Dissolve the Better Than in 1.5 cups of water and pour that mixture into your sauce pan. Cook until reduced, but not dry. There should be some liquid left in pan to provide a ‘sauce’ for the dish.

At this time add the gnocchi to the water. The gnocchi will sink to the bottom. When it rises to the top it is done. Add your kale to your frying pan and stir it in. The gnocchi will cook quickly in a rolling boil (4-5 minutes tops) and will overcook just as fast. Scoop out the gnocchi leaving as much water as possible behind and put it right into your mushroom mix. Stir and serve.

At this time I like to shred a little Pecorino Romano on top, but that is completely optional. There are gluten free gnocchi’s in some grocery stores, so it is possible to make this dish gluten free as well.
Eat and enjoy.

Chicken of the Woods

Chicken of the Woods

James Talbot is a staff member and blogger for Mississippi Market’s Eat Local Challenge. As the grocery manager at Selby, you’ll find him in the ailes stocking the shelves, answering questions and figuring out how to make space for more awesome products.