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Read: Recipes

Filtering by Category: Summer

How to build a better turkey burger

Pallas Erdrich

Photo by Mette Nielsen

Photo by Mette Nielsen

Turkey burgers have a reputation for being virtuous, but that’s not why I like them. They are milder in taste than beef or lamb, with a softer texture, so they offer a neutral canvas for a range of seasonings and bold condiments. This is a burger where more is better, so pile it on.

Ground turkey is especially lean, and like all poultry, needs to be thoroughly cooked. Keeping turkey burgers from becoming dry can be tricky. Rule No. 1 is to pan-fry them rather than grilling them, good advice that applies to any ground meat patty (beef, lamb or turkey), which retains its moisture and is juicier when seared in a hot pan.

Use a heavy skillet or frying pan — seasoned cast iron works best. And for a turkey burger, start it over high heat to get a great dark crust, then turn the heat down, and cook the turkey slowly, thoroughly, until it’s no longer pink within. Dark meat ground turkey has more flavor and a little more fat than white-meat turkey, and makes a great choice. A mix of both will also work well.

Turkey meat needs seasonings. Soy, Worcestershire sauce or fish sauce add rich, dark notes of umami. While some cooks mix in eggs to bind and moisten the turkey, I find that a good mayonnaise does the same while enriching the meat with much needed fat.

Once you’ve cooked the burgers, it’s time for condiments and don’t hold back! I go for bold tasting cheeses, salty cured meats, sautéed mushrooms and fresh, snappy greens.

Just this past week at the farmers market, I stocked up on arugula, sorrel, mizuna, pea shoots and radish microgreens. Though delicate, these greens are so fresh they’ve lasted all through the week, ready to layer in sandwiches, pile on pizzas, garnish frittatas and add spicy crunch to burgers, as well as chicken, potato and noodle salads.

The best bet for buns? The humble whole-wheat burger bun, lightly toasted, is sturdy enough to stand up to an array of necessary and deliciously messy condiments. Get out the napkins, as this better burger requires two hands.

Curry Potato Salad

Pallas Erdrich

Curry dresses up potatoes for a side dish with a dash of heat

This spice blend dresses up potatoes for a memorable side dish with a dash of heat. 

Mette Nielsen

Mette Nielsen

Curry, the aromatic blend of warm spices, punches up the most ordinary foods. Take potatoes, this cold season’s reliable staple. Just sprinkle a little curry and a squirt of lime juice into the dressing for potato salad, and you’ve sparked a winning side dish. Add cooked chicken and you’ve got a light meal.

There is no rigid definition of curry, but it most often contains a mix of ginger, garlic, turmeric, chile peppers, cumin, fenugreek, fennel seed, caraway, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed, cardamom, nutmeg and black pepper. The ingredients will vary depending on the cook and the region’s influences. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Caribbean all prize their own curries. It makes sense to find a blend or several blends to suit your individual tastes.

Potatoes work nicely with curry, as their neutral flavors can take the heat. The best potatoes for salads are the waxy varieties such as Yukon Gold, Red Bliss and fingerling. They have the least amount of starch and retain their shape when boiled.

Be sure to start the potatoes in cold water, not boiling, and to salt the water generously. The potatoes will absorb some of the salt so that they’re seasoned from the inside out. Be sure the potatoes are cooked thoroughly, so that they’re firm, not crunchy or overcooked and mushy. They should be barely tender when pierced with a fork.

This salad will hold a day or two in the refrigerator and so may be prepared ahead. Double the recipe for a party but save some for a weekday dinner. Curry favor and comfort with this down-home dish.

Curry Potato Salad

Serves 6. 

• 1 1/2 lb. red, fingerling or new potatoes, scrubbed

• 2 tsp. salt

• 1/4 c. mayonnaise

• 3 tbsp. whole milk yogurt

• 2 tbsp. curry powder, or more to taste

• 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice, to taste

• 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Place the potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover by several inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, add the salt, and reduce to a gentle boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain into a colander. Allow to cool enough to handle, then cut into 2-inch chunks.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, curry powder and lime juice. Place the potatoes into a large bowl along with the bell pepper, add the dressing and toss to thoroughly coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold.

Quick raspberry jam makes use of the oven

Pallas Erdrich

An old English recipe uses the oven to prep berries for a delicious spread.


Now that our raspberry canes are drooping heavy with fruit, it’s time to savor the rest of these summery days. Preserving such delicate berries needn’t mean hours at the stove in August’s dogged heat. My grandmother made super-quick jam relying on an old English recipe that uses the oven to retain the fruit’s shape and bright flavor.

The key is to make this jam in small batches rather than huge amounts, so there’s little stirring and no boiling. Lacking time, just package the berries up and freeze them to save so that you can make jam when the winter winds blow.

This quick oven method is great for delicate raspberries, blackberries, thimbleberries and currants. Heating the sugar first warms the berries before they hit the blast of the oven, so they cook through in less time. We also skip the water bath method that cooks the berries further after the jam has been made and put into jars, thus dulling the taste.

Raspberries burst with a balance of intense sweetness and acidity, and contain just enough natural pectin to create a mixture that’s thick and spreadable without the need for additional stabilizers or thickeners.

This raspberry jam will keep in the refrigerator for at least a month, but it’s so good, we wouldn’t count on it lasting more than a couple of days. It’s delicious folded into whipped cream to pile on shortcakes, dolloped onto pound cake or spooned over vanilla ice cream. For more savory uses, fold in chopped basil and drop onto chèvre for appetizers, add a chopped chile pepper for a sweet-hot salsa or stir in chopped rosemary to garnish a plate of chicken salad.

Soon as it’s gone, make more, and savor the summer jar by jar.

Super Quick Oven Raspberry Jam

Makes 3 half-pints

Note: This will be the freshest jam you’ve ever encountered. Cooking the raspberries in the oven rather than on the stovetop helps them retain their shape and bright taste. This will keep at least a month, covered, in the refrigerator. From Beth Dooley.

• 2 c. sugar

• 1 pint (2 c., about 3/4 lb.) raspberries


Wash 3 half-pint jars and lids with soap and hot water, then run through the dishwasher or set in a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes to sterilize. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the sugar into an 8- or 9-inch baking dish and warm in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and place in a bowl.

Put the raspberries into the baking dish and spoon the sugar over the berries, gently turning to mix in the sugar. Return the dish to the oven and bake until the berry mix is very hot but not boiling, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and stir gently, then ladle into the sterilized jars. Allow to cool to room temperature. Cover the jars and refrigerate. Enjoy sooner, rather than later.

Nutrition information per 1 tablespoon:

Calories 35 Fat 0 g Sodium 0 mg

Carbohydrates 9 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 1 mg

Protein 0 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: ½ other carb.

Roast cherry tomatoes for intense flavor

Pallas Erdrich


We expect a lot of our garden tomatoes. Too much, I think. I grew up in New Jersey, home of the robust, red “Jersey Tom,” so I can say with some authority that Minnesota tomatoes are, well, OK. Given this year’s cooler temperatures, they aren’t getting the heat and humidity that tomatoes require to cultivate the fruit’s deeply rich flavor.

It’s the smaller, less ambitious cherry tomatoes that have earned my summer love. Reliable and productive, the cherry varieties have ripened beautifully this year, to be firm and snappy sweet-tart. They’re flourishing in pots right outside my kitchen door, which makes them easy to move to be assured of plenty of sun. Not so incidentally, when ripe, they are within easy reach.

The cherry tomato varieties I am growing are the Sun Gold, Gardeners Delight and Yellow Pear, along with those blackish-brown small tomatoes that are a mini-version of Russian Blacks. These all make quick snacks for dips and are perfect for tossing into salads, pastas and sautés. There’s no need to skin or seed these tomatoes. In fact, much of the flavor resides in the gel that surrounds the seeds. The skins, though firm, are not worth the time and mess it takes to remove them.

Tomato flavor intensifies with the heat of the oven. While cherry tomatoes are fabulous fresh, their flavors are even brighter when roasted, as all the sweet-sharpness comes to the fore. When I have a big batch, I roast them all at once to top pizza and burgers later.

The best advice I ever received regarding fresh tomatoes (and many other things, for that matter) was from Mrs. Delliapiazza, who grew Jersey Toms in her garden and stored them in a big basket on her wooden cutting board.

“Never, ever put a tomato in the refrigerator,” she said. “Or basil, for that matter. They’re like me. They hate the cold.”

Mette Nielsen

Mette Nielsen

Roasted Cherry Tomato Salad

Serves 4.

Note: This recipe is perfect for when you have too many cherry tomatoes. If you have a bumper crop, roast up a double amount and store in a glass jar, covered, in the refrigerator. Serve them on sandwiches, on top of grilled steak or chicken, and to top pizza. Cherry tomatoes roast beautifully; their skins wrinkle and shrink while the pulp collapses, releasing the tomato juices that mix with the oil for a fabulous dressing. From Beth Dooley.

• 3 c. mixed cherry tomatoes

• 1 shallot minced

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• Coarse salt

• 1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-in. pieces, optional

• 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

• 1/4 c. sliced fresh basil

• Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the tomatoes and shallot with the olive oil and sprinkle with 2 pinches of the coarse salt.

Spread the tomatoes on a baking sheet and roast until wrinkled and starting to char, about 40 minutes, shaking the pan periodically so the tomatoes cook evenly.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven and while they’re still hot, gently transfer to a bowl. Add the mozzarella, if using, and gently toss in the balsamic vinegar and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 256 Fat 21 g Sodium 240 mg Saturated fat 9 g

Carbohydrates 8 g Calcium 223 mg

Protein 13 g Cholesterol 40 mg Dietary fiber 2 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1½ high-fat meat, 2 fat.

originally published by The Star Tribune

Hot and Tangy Corn Relish

Pallas Erdrich

Mette Neilsen

Mette Neilsen

Those kernels are good in so many different dishes. 

It’s always hard to believe that there comes a time in the year when I think, “I’ve just had too much corn.”

Roasted on the grill with a splash of lime or blanched and slathered with butter, we’ve been eating it night after night as the main dish with a side of thickly sliced tomatoes and grilled bruschetta. But now I’m ready for some variety — succotash, corn salads, pasta, corn pudding.

Our farmers are growing a range of organic varieties, such as Ruby Jewel, Sugar Pearl, Brocade, Painted Mountain. This year a new variety corn, dubbed “Who Gets Kissed,” hit the market, developed by Martin Diffley, who with his wife, Atina, introduced us to wonderful heirloom corn when they farmed Gardens of Eagan.

Don’t limit your enjoyment of corn to the kernels. The cobs make wonderful stock and syrup. Simply put the cobs into a large pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Add a few herbs and you have a fine broth to use in soups and sautés. Or, stir in a little brown sugar or honey and continue cooking until it thickens into syrup. This is wonderful on blueberry corn pancakes and cornbread, or drizzled over vanilla ice cream.

One of the best ways to preserve a bounty of corn for the colder months is to make corn relish. It’s quick and easy, delicious served right away or keeps several weeks in the refrigerator; it also freezes nicely. As with any corn recipe, the key is to not to overcook it. Enjoy now and save some for later.

Hot and Tangy Corn Relish

Makes about 6 to 7 cups.

Note: Sparked with lime and chile, this relish is great on burgers, chicken, fish and black beans. Serve it with chips or on top of bruschetta. It will keep about two weeks, covered in the refrigerator. To remove the kernels from the cob, stand each ear in a large bowl and, using a sharp-bladed knife, scrape the kernels from the cob into the bowl. From Beth Dooley.

• 6 to 8 ears of corn

• 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced

• 1 sweet red bell pepper, seeded and diced

• 1 tbsp. coriander seeds

• 2 tsp. mustard seeds

• 1 tsp. whole peppercorns

• Juice of 4 limes (about 1/3 c.)

• 2 tsp. chipotle chile flakes, or more to taste

• 2 tsp. salt, or to taste

• 1/4 c. sugar


Shuck the corn and cut the kernels from the cob (should have about 6 cups of kernels). Put the corn kernels, jalapeño and bell peppers, coriander, mustard seeds, whole peppercorns, lime juice, chile flakes, salt and sugar into a large pot, and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring gently, then reduce the heat and simmer until the corn is tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove and ladle into clean jars. Allow to cool before serving. Cover the jars and store in the refrigerator.

Nutrition info per 2 tablespoons:

Calories 18 Fat 0 g Sodium 85 mg Carbs 4 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 2 mg

Protein 1 g Chol 0 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable.

Recipe originally published by The Star Tribune

Carrot Salad With Coriander, Cumin and Cilantro

Pallas Erdrich

Mette Nielsn

Mette Nielsn

Some 30 years ago, at the farmers market, the taste of a single carrot brought back memories of the fresh summer mornings I trailed my grandmother. She would thump melons, sniff peaches and swap recipes clipped from the newspaper with the farm women near her home on the New Jersey shore. As I exchanged money with a farmer, whose fingers resembled his thick, gnarled carrots, he assured me the lacy-topped roots he’d dug that morning had been raised without chemicals. In that first sweet crunch, I realized the relationship between how and where vegetables are grown and their flavor.

Our local carrots are perfect just as they are — sliced and served with a dip, sprinkled with lime, cumin and coarse salt, or tossed in a salad. In winter, carrots are the backbone vegetable on which to build layers of flavor in a stock or stew. The heirloom varieties — white, yellow, purple, violet, burgundy and plum — offer a range of nuanced flavors — earthy, citrusy, sugary.

I’ve seen older recipes for a pudding of carrots and honey. Historians write that the vegetable was first domesticated in Afghanistan. Its flavors are a good match with Indian and Middle Eastern herbs and spices — cumin, red chilies, turmeric, ginger, curry, cardamom, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, cloves, coriander, fennel, black pepper, mint, basil, cilantro, as well as citrus.

Some food writers suggest including the leaves in dishes, but I find them bitter and distracting. In fact, it’s best to remove the tops and store carrots, unwashed, in a paper bag in the crisper of the refrigerator. Scrubbed carrots kept in plastic tend to turn slimy. If possible, buy them in bulk.

As a bonus, our growers are cultivating “storage” carrots that taste even sweeter several months after harvest. When stored carefully they will sweeten over time, with those flavors to be released in January and February. Enjoy local carrots now and look for the other varieties later in the year.

Carrot Salad With Coriander, Cumin and Cilantro

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: Use a variety of colorful rainbow carrots in this light, refreshing salad. You can make it a day ahead and bring it to a picnic. From Beth Dooley.

• 1 garlic clove

• 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

• 1/2 tsp. ground coriander

• Pinch crushed red pepper

• 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 lb. carrots, cut into thin matchsticks

• 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

• 1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint

• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Smash the garlic with the flat of a knife. Transfer it to a small bowl, then add the cumin, coriander, crushed red pepper and lemon juice. Whisk in the olive oil.

Put the carrots into a large bowl and toss with the dressing along with the cilantro and mint, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 114

Fat 9 g

Sodium 53 mg

Carbohydrates 8 g

Saturated fat 1 g

Calcium 30 mg

Protein 1 g

Cholesterol 0 mg

Dietary fiber 2 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 2 fat.

Recipe originally published by The Star Tribune