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Following twenty years of farmer's markets selling locally grown vegetables, native fruits, and local honey Linda created Marianne's Kitchen in Shoreview, MN, an oasis of good food, conversation and laughter in a suburban food desert. Operating from 2011-2017 the cafe offered home made soups, fresh bread baked daily, great sandwiches and treats and a complete line of gluten-free soups, pickled products, jams, jellies, salsas and locally sourced soups, honey and grains.

The Marianne's Kitchen of sharing, conversation, and learning continues with ongoing commentary, food reviews and food finds as we grow, cook and eat our food and sample local restaurants.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

CSA Box #1 Asian Dinner With Chicken

This summer we thought it might be fun to sign up for someone else's vegetables...through buying a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) share. 

We'll have our own veggies, too, as the season goes along...heirloom potatoes, shallots, fin de Bagnol beans, lettuces, lima beans, tomatillos, French horticultural beans, baby patty pans, carrots....all depending on what we get to before the animals get to the veggie garden.....always a race against time (the raccoons know exactly which night the sweet corn is ready...the night before you're planning on picking it!).

Costa Farms

So, we chose the mini box from Costa Farms-not so many veggies at one be picked up at Angus Meats.   Great idea to pair those two, don't you think?

What was in CSA box #1?

Today the first box was delivered.   We signed our name and popped the top to see what was included in the box.    Bok Choy, knobby green onions, lacinato kale, the honey from Honey House, rhubarb, fresh coriander (cilantro).    Well, that's a good starting point to turn and stare into the beautiful meat selection at Angus Meats and create a first meal or two.   An Asian dinner with chicken was the first thing that came to time to go for
it.   (I don't know what those teriyaki 'snack sticks' had to do with dinner....but the butcher was smart enough to hand one to John to eat in the peacefulness reigned for the entire drive!).

Let's see if we can't put together a few ideas and create a fun dinner dish.

CSA Box #1 Dinner #1

I started with the chicken thighs--meaty, so they
won't dry out as we throw heat at them in a couple of ways.   I rubbed them with some of our Marianne's Kitchen Asian sesame ginger rub, let them rest a bit...then popped them in the oven to cook in all of that sesame ginger goodness.

In the meantime, I cracked open a bag of
'Marianne's Ginger Rice With Cranberries' and put some water on the stove (I didn't even use
stock....there would be enough flavors in the dish that the extra chicken or veggie stock wasn't really necessary).  I added the rice and the ginger spice packet....then I stood by the stove pondering what to do.   The ginger rice mix also contains a bag of dried I need them in this preparation?   I thought about pretty jeweled rice....and I went for it.   (The other option was to reward myself by eating the bag of dried cranberries while everything cooked...that would have been good, too!).

Once the chicken was roasted, I set it aside to be cool enough to handle.

Time to dig into the CSA box to see which tasty treats to put in this 'recipe'.   Bok choy, the nobby onions could be used 2 ways, the fresh coriander would garnish the top of the dish.   Oh, that honey bear was about the make a new friend, too.

I grabbed a sweet pepper from the fridge and was ready to go...washing the pepper, onions, bok choy.   In a deep saute pan, I heated some olive oil and then added large dice sweet pepper,  the white portions of a couple of the knobby onions--very finely sliced into rings, and one of the heads of bok choy--rinsed, with the rattie edges of the leaves cut off, then sliced diagonally into nice big chunks, too.    As those began to soften and brown slightly, I removed the
chicken from a couple of the thighs and chopped it into large pieces.  When the veggies were just about ready, I added some Ponzu and honey (they are now new best friends) to the veggies, stirred for a minute, then added the chicken pieces and gave it all one last whirl in the pan.

By then, the rice was cooked, so I removed the cover and fluffed it up a bit with a fork.   I had already diagonally-sliced the tops of the green onions and washed and dried some of the nicest stems from the cilantro to artfully arrange on the top.

Since the bowls I was using were pretty deep, I added a serving of the ginger rice with cranberries at the bottom, a layer of the veggies and chicken, another layer of ginger rice, and one more layer of chicken and veggies (to make it easier to get a bite of chicken, veggies, and rice all on one fork....and not have a ton of rice left in the bottom).   The diagonal green onions added a lot of color when sprinkled on the top, and the cilantro sprigs added another texture and flavor (this bunch had some tiny baby sprouts at the top....tender and delish).

Conclusion:  CSA Box #1 Dinner

All in all, an easy and successful dinner from the first CSA box of the season.   It combined ingredients on hand--a mix and a rub from our Marianne's Kitchen products, a sweet pepper, and a bottle of Ponzu, some of the contents of the CSA box plus chicken from our pick up point--Angus Meats.   We brought it all together in harmony...for a delicious dinner

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Filfillah With Our Cousin -- Great Dining

Plan 'B' Leads Us to Filfillah Mediterranean Restaurant ... Which Was Great!!

We were going to try out the new Olive & Lamb last night but it seems to be somewhat delayed. Looks like they may be just about ready for steady business shortly- we’ll check back.  Since Olive & Lamb is in one of my cousin’s neighborhoods, we planned to try it out together. So, time for 'Plan B.'

filfillah middle eastern restaurant ...turns out she’s never dined at Filfillah Middle Eastern Restaurant (one of our favorites) because she lives closer to Holy Land...I go there when I want to shop & eat.  Off to Filfillah—-they finished their remodel fairly recently—time to check it out.  Ah, order at the counter now. We can handle that—-well, I was the designated order placer, so I ordered kind
filfillah middle eastern restaurant pickles olives
of everything on the menu that sounded good at the moment (reminder: the portions are huge here).  So we ran out of room on the 4 person table for 3 people’s ‘food to share’. Is that a problem? Nah, they have to-go boxes so we can take home the leftovers.

filfillah middle eastern restaurant mazza platter baba ghanouj falafel taboulehFilfillah Mazza Platter

Mazza plattter, meze plate, so many names—-Filfillah’s is so good: dolma, baba ghanouj (spell it your way), hummus, tons of Kalamata olives, falafel, tabouleh, a plate of rice, house-baked Turkish bread, sauces (cucumber, tahini), & a big pile of Feta.  This platter alone might have been enough for all of us with 1 more Turkish bread.  But we had to taste our way through a lot more.

filfillah middle eastern restaurant chicken shawarma sandwichFilfillah Chicken Shawarma

BK had the chicken shawarma sandwich with fries. It arrived on a whole Turkish bread—enough to tear off pieces to scoop up more hummus or smokey eggplant!!! (At the end, probably 3/4 of the sandwich went to BK’s house—-she just said she was having it for lunch today—-another whole meal!!). It’s topped with potatoes, pickles & garlic sauce—we held the pickles—John was already getting a heap o’ pickles on his plate.

filfillah middle eastern restaurant chicken kofta wrapChicken Kofta Wrap

John opted for the chicken kofta as a wrap. The chicken kofta is so good (John ‘allowed’ me have a piece sliced off the end—so delish). The kofta is grilled and topped with tomatoes, onions & garlic sauce. He made it farther—he was able to eat 1/2 of the wrap.

filfillah middle eastern restaurant veggie pita pieFilfillah Veggie Pita Pie

I’m a big fan of the pita pies—-I chose veggie this time (but I’ve eaten all of them—-no losers in the whole group). I made it through almost 1/2 of my pie—think of this like a pizza loaded with veggies and tons of gooey cheese—-on light, perfect ‘bread’ as the crust. Any extra piece of crust can also be used to dip into the big pile of hummus & its pond of excellent olive oil.

filfillah middle eastern restaurant mazza platterFilfillah ... Totally Delish!

BK pronounced the whole thing delicious. We never know which is our favorite—it’s all so good.

If you haven’t been to Filfillah, check it out. Consistently good meals and a friendly staff.
filfillah middle eastern restaurant turkish bread 

Location          Google Maps 
Located on Central Ave in Columbia Heights

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Crazy Cajun --- A Melting Pot Story!!

crazy cajun brooklyn park mn

Crazy Cajun / Brooklyn Park, MN << YES!!

Two words to describe the Crazy Cajun restaurant:  Perfectly Fried!

We were on our way back from dropping a grandkid off at an Olympic Development soccer event in Maple Grove when hunger struck.   Using our trusty phone map and food locator, we were directed to Crazy Cajun in Brooklyn Park.

We've been to this strip mall before....hard to find tucked behind other strip malls and the Festival Foods.  Crazy Cajun is 2 doors down from one of our previous favorities....Gramsky's Sandwiches.  Sadly, Gramsky's is gone (25% of new restaurants fold in two years)....we loved the food.  But mom and daughter did most of the work (gee, I can identify with that part of the story), and mom was really tired last time we were there.   Looks like maybe it was all too much work for them.    The Gramsky's space is now a Mexican restaurant...we'll have to go back and give that a try.

But today, it's Crazy Cajun.

Crazy Cajun:  Viet Nam to Lousiana to Minnesota

Now if this isn't an American story, I don't know what is.   The Crazy Cajun is run by a guy of Vietnamese descent from Texas.  He moved to MN and missed his favorite cajun he recreated them here.

Our server, likewise, was the granddaughter of Vietnamese immigrants from Louisiana...she splits her times between MN and Louisiana (I hope that's Louisiana during the winter here!!!).  She's not related to the owner, but was connected by a mutual she's worked here for much of the time the restaurant has been in business (about 3 years or so).

We liked the food at Crazy Cajun...a lot!!

Since it was our first visit, we tried to sample a few items.  The menu is heavy on seafood....but I have an we tried other options.   But lots of customers were having seafood...and wearing the appropriate bibs!  We tried the Louisiana pie appetizer, the chicken po' boy, the sweet potato fries, and the chicken and sausage gumbo...along with a sweet tea.  

crazy cajun brooklyn park mnCrazy Cajun Gumbo

The gumbo was full of chicken and smoky sausage...that smoky flavor really came through.   Lots of okra, not too much rice....a great tasting broth, not too salty.  The cup was a very ample portion.


Crazy Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

crazy cajun brooklyn park mnWe fell in love with the sweet potato fries.   The huge portion was perfectly fried...not the sweetness and fresh sweet potato flavor came through big time.  Our server apparently accidentally brought us the horseradish cocktail sauce instead of ketchup (I really don't care for ketchup on sweet potato fries)...the horseradish was a great mate for the fries....a fun, fun flavor combo.   We'll have to remember to ask for the sauce next time so we can re-live the experience.   So many fries that it was not humanly possible to eat all of them.  So good I brought the leftover home (with more sauce)....I'll try to re-crisp them in the oven for a tasty snack.  Loved 'em.

Crazy Cajun Chicken Po' Boy

crazy cajun brooklyn park mnJohn went for the chicken po' boy.   It was a typically generous sized sandwich with a nicely fried piece of boneless chicken....the edges were actually crispy even halfway through the sandwich.  The bun itself was big...but actually very tasty (often this is a let down in po' boy world).  It was chewy (John found the bottom of the bun too chewy so resorted to a knife and fork).  But I found it appealing, slathered in butter and mayo and a bit of mustard .... I ate 1/4 of the bun by itself.  The sandwich was a mouthful...the
crazy cajun brooklyn park mn
big bun (slathered in fatty goodness), with lettuce, tomato, spicy sauce, pickles, and the nice, dense perfectly fried chicken.  It did become a bit drippy, so make sure you tear some sheets of paper towels off the roll before you pick the thing up!

Crazy Cajun Louisiana Pie

crazy cajun brooklyn park mnFinally, we dug into the Louisiana pie appetizer at the end.   Yes, we're smart like that...deep fried pie....gonna burn the roof of your mouth if you dig in when they deliver it!   A dense meat and potato filling in this half round hand pie....with fork marks around the edges.   It was a rich, tasty appetizer with a little bit of zing (heat)...easy to cut in half and share (once it cools off so that it's approachable).   Good to have a cold glass of sweet tea nearby just in case.

Crazy Cajun Customers & Service

The customers all seemed to be happily enjoying their Cajun specialties.  The service was super friendly and helpful; pretty quick food arrival, too.

Overall Rating for Crazy Cajun Visit #1:  4 stars

Outstanding sweet potato fries, meaty gumbo with good broth, a po' boy on a good bun with all the fatty goodness you want, an interesting little Louisiana handpie and great service.

We'd say:  "Try it!"
Location:       Google Maps
Website:        Crazy Cajun
Menu:            Food Menu