[FHCx303] National Oatmeal Day

Make a meal of it!

IT’S NATIONAL OATMEAL DAY!

There are a lot of health benefits to eating oatmeal. But it must be the case that a lot of those benefits go away when you turn to instant oatmeal. Not that it’s bad, but just… you know…

We were lucky that SPom had just made these unbelievably delicious apple oatmeal bars. Though we weren’t there for the baking, we did get this image as the recipe…

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That’s right. Cups upon cups of sugar and 2 sticks of butter.

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They smell and taste amazing.

Tomorrow is National Candy Corn Day and National Buy a Doughnut Day!

-SPAK

 

[FHCx300] National Pumpkin Day/National Mince Meat Day

Can you believe it? 300?!

IT’S NATIONAL PUMPKIN DAY AND NATIONAL MINCE MEAT DAY!

Mince meat isn’t really meat. Well, it was at one point. Some recipes for it contain beef suet, a.k.a. beef lard. But it used to be a pie filling of mutton or beef with the suet to help bind it into a filling. Add some dried fruits like prunes and raisins, and you’ve got a mince meat. This is coming from the same group that calls non-pudding things “puddings.”

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You read that right: 190 calories for 1/3 cup.

You can use it to top ice cream or make a pie out of. We were going to make the recipe on the side of the jar, but ran out of time, so we had it with our pumpkin bars.

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The only ingredients you need for these pumpkin bars.

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Mix them well together.

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Pour into a pan (here is 9×9) and bake at 350 for 35 minutes

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Squishy, tasty, and lots of great pumpkin flavor from actual pumpkin.

We were surprised pumpkin day was not October 31, but we’re happy to celebrate regardless. Unfortunately, our plans to carve our Halloween punkins aren’t until Saturday… but we’ll post pictures on 10/31.

Tomorrow is National American Beer Day.

-SPAK

I like this place a waffle lot

SP here, for a quick write-up about an amazing spot just north of the University of Minnesota: Black Coffee and Waffle Bar. I went here with a coworker before helping out with a “camp” at the U, and it blew my mind. I couldn’t think about anything else for the rest of the day.

To me, there’s a holy trio of breakfast foods: french toast, pancakes, and waffles. Personally, I believe that french toast is one of the greatest foods of all time, and the best among the three. Pancakes and waffles are locked in an eternal battle for supremacy. Sometimes pancakes win, and sometimes waffles.

Black Coffee and Waffle is aptly named because those are essentially the two items on the menu. 7am-9pm every day – coffee and waffles. They have a few bakery items, but you know what you’re getting into when you walk in the door. I can’t speak much to the coffee because I am not a connoisseur, not even much of a fan. But waffles are my domain.

Among the waffle choices are sweet and savory options. Now, if you’re like a couple of my [crazy] friends, you’re not a fan of sweet foods for breakfast, so you might opt for the ham and swiss waffle: a waffle-sized slice of ham with melted swiss over it. Hearty and tasty for the meat-eater. If you’re like me, anything that has the word “banana” becomes immediately more attractive. This time around, I opted for the Banana Nut waffle, with whipped cream, walnuts, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It tastes like a banana nut bread that just got pressed into a waffle.

I fell into a tasty ring of bananas

I fell into a tasty ring of bananas

A great waffle has an exterior crunch that is unique to wafflekind. The interior is super fluffy but slightly chewy in order to feel substantial. It’s almost like a french fry, in a way. And unlike the french fry, the Belgian waffle does have its origins in its namesake country. It’s all a great combination.

Also, I bought AK a waffle maker a couple weeks ago. Maybe she’ll make some of these at home. But in the meantime, I’ll definitely be back to Black Coffee and Waffle Bar.

SP

Whose house?! Icehouse!

We’ve been dormant! Mostly because we’re moving. Part of this moving business includes getting the new kitchen remodeled (into an extra-new SUPERKITCHEN!) which, of course, means more excuses to go out to eat! Yay. This time, we chose Icehouse. It’s kind of toward uptown Minneapolis, but isn’t that not technically uptown? It’s south of downtown. The neighborhood might be called Whittier but also we might have made that up. How’s this: Icehouse is on the Eat Street bit of Nicollet.

And the inside is real purty. Photo credit: heavytable.com

SP fancied himself a cocktail and decided to forego his usual citrus-focused drink choices for what Icehouse has dubbed the “Little Richard,” which is described on the menu as “zesty jazzberry phosphate rum-punch with vanilla cream foam.” Slightly obscure Mary Poppins references aside, it looked like this:

"HOOOOOO! Shut up." - Kennedy Davenport as Little Richard

“HOOOOOO! Shut up.” – Kennedy Davenport as Little Richard

As a bonus, it makes your burps taste like Jolly Ranchers!

We, as a SPAKtastic unit, love few things more than we love mushrooms, onion, and garlic (in any configuration or combination, really). That said, it of course follows that we ordered the Cast Iron Mushrooms as a starter. It’s a gorgeous varied heap of squishy shroomy goodness, topped with goopy burrata cheese. According to the internet, “burrata” means “buttered” in Italian; hopefully that’s an effective indication of how perfect the texture is. You’d think that exquisite cheesy mushrooms in a cast iron dish (as promised!) would be enough, but it also comes with a side of crostini AND roasted garlic in a sort of oily paste form. No onions to be found in this dish, but that’s not a letdown. Just imagine: delicately grasping a crostino between your thumb and forefinger; trying to contain yourself as you use your butter knife to scoop up some garlic paste and gingerly spread it on the roasty toasty bread; fumbling with your fork to gather up enough mushrooms to adequately adorn the layer of pure garlicky heaven; and, finally… the euphoric crunch resonating throughout your skull as the savory symphony plays on over your tastebuds.

Cast Iron Mushrooms with Crostini and Roasted Garlic

Cast Iron Mushrooms with Crostini and Roasted Garlic

Pure fungal heaven.

SP has spent a couple months coveting the Icehouse Burger from afar, ever since he saw it in a local magazine. One of the things that makes it special is the option of adding a slab of foie gras to it, and we saw to it that this opportunity was seized. Some burgers are the type you cannot possibly avoid getting all over you, and the Icehouse Burger is no exception. Rather than excess ketchup and mustard, what drips down your arm is a veritable stream of fatty duck and even fattier beef juices — plus, a truffle demi-glace, which was poured over the meat as it was served. When you bite into it, it’s like biting into a meat cloud bursting with rain-juice.

“So good. There were onions, it was buttery, sweet, salty, and… **indistinct satisfied muttering**… The fries were so good, too. Restaurant-style, hand-cut fries. They know what they’re doing. **more muttering** Crispy outside, fluffy inside, salted correctly. No way they’d ever let anything sit under a warmer to get soggy and stale. The tomato aioli that came with the fries was nice and smoky. **a sound that might be characterized most closely with “nnnnph”** A burger you won’t regret.” – SP, in a burger-induced haze

The top bun practically bounced right back off after SP put it on. A burger not to be trifled with.

The top bun practically bounced right back off after SP put it on. A burger not to be trifled with.

Meanwhile, across the table, AK chowed down on some Hanger Steak. It arrived on a bed of greens and wild mushrooms with sherry, topped with veal sweetbreads, and a croquetta on the side. Our server explained that the steak is served at a default of medium to medium-well as a result of being cooked sous-vide, which usually isn’t preferred (medium rare is the SPAK way), but the meat came out a beautiful, dark, and ultimately irresistible pink. It was tender, juicy, flavorful, and everything it should have been. It’s unclear what exactly was in this particular croquetta, but whatever it was, it was awesome. The insides were moist and salty, while the outside had a lovely crunch. The thought of what goes into sweetbreads usually gets us both feeling a little skeevy, but once you can get past the inherent rubberyness, the taste is rich and enjoyable. Neither of us remember what the sauce on the plate was, but it paired nicely with any of the other items in the dish. Some kind of remoulade, maybe?

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Lest we forget the sides. This time around we decided to get two to share: 1) Beer Battered Eggplant, and 2) Bacon, Egg, & Cheddar Mac & Cheese.

Beer Battered Eggplant with basil pesto, saffron, and giardiniera dollops for dippin'

Beer Battered Eggplant with basil pesto, saffron, and giardiniera dollops for dippin’

The batter didn’t taste that beerish, but not in a bad way. Nor in a way that makes you feel cheated. It was a very light batter that melts in your mouth without ever separating from the eggplant treasure within. The eggplant doesn’t come out of the battering/frying process too squishy or overly salty, either. Yum!

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The mac & cheese is one of the items we were most looking forward to but, sadly, also the one the ended up being our least favorite. Not because it was bad! It was very good! But something always has to place last. If you tend to enjoy white cheddar mac & cheese with thinner and not so much of the in-your-face types of thick melty cheese, this one is perfect for you. The bacon pervades the dish pleasantly, and the goo from the poached egg on top is a welcome addition (eggs over easy is a SPAK breakfast favorite!). Lastly, the smattering of roasted tomato and rosemary was a very present taste without being too pungent.

And then… there was dessert. We love chocolate. We love chocolate so much that we got both of the chocolate-centric desserts available to us: the Dark Chocolate Torte, and Chocolate Zucchini Cake. Each came with either a sorbet or ice cream, the freshness of which managed to dampen the heavy richness of all the chocolate. We’ll let them speak for themselves:

Dark Chocolate Torte with apricot ice cream, raspberries, and sunflower seeds

Dark Chocolate Torte with apricot ice cream, raspberries, and sunflower seeds. Plus, some sort of vaguely brown butter-esque sauce.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with chocolate sorbet, ganache, oreo crumb, and cinnamon. Although, I could swear there was also a vanilla sorbet. You can kind of see it behind one of the pieces of cake in the middle. But maybe that was just the ganache.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with chocolate sorbet, ganache, oreo crumb, and cinnamon. Although, we could swear there was also a vanilla sorbet. You can kind of see it behind one of the pieces of cake in the middle.

We’re full.

AK