According to last Sunday's New York Times, roughly 20 percent of Hennepin County residents use food stamps. Any wonder why restaurant business is down? Actually, both are symptoms of the larger economic problem that have no causal relationship, but weren’t you staggered when you read that fact? One in five. These are horrible days in many respects. December would be a great month for all those in a position to do so, to donate whatever possible to local foods shelves. Second Harvest Heartland is a great place to start.
I promise to eventually get off this rant, but I am convinced that more food trucks roving all over the metro would be a great boon to the local food scene. I got a great taste of the possibilities this past weekend when I rode in the Holidazzle parade and saw a few mini donut stalls set up, a popcorn booth, and the Chef Shack all selling their wares along the parade route. It would have been nice to see dozens of stalls and trucks set up along Nicollet and down 11th and 10th. Perhaps that would attract parade watchers to come early and snack late? The Parade was a superb example of the type of unique local events that could receive a huge leg-up from a vibrant street food scene. And vice versa. Taco trucks, crepe stands, doner kebap stalls, arepas, lobster rolls, sausages and kraut, mobile soup carts, Philly and Chicago beef sandwiches, laksa and pho, classic BBQ we could increase the list ad nauseam how awesome would it be to see that kind of stuff all over the Cities?
I write for Delta Sky Magazine, so I guess I could be accused of being drunk on the company Kool-Aid, but I am also a frequent traveler based in Minneapolis and subsequently I fly on the airline every other week, domestically and internationally. Over the years I have mentioned many of my air travel pet peeves so it is only fair that I throw the team a little juice when they deserve it. I ate a meal last week that was easily the best thing I have eaten on a domestically based carrier in all my years of travel. Asparagus soup, a small romaine and daikon salad with toasted soybeans and shiso vinaigrette, a moist boneless chicken with lemon and capers teamed with buttered pink radishes and farmstand sweet baby gold potatoes. Roasted sliced Meyer lemons made for a piquant foil and I enjoyed the dinner so much I was shocked to look down and see I was in an airline seat. Then I plugged in my laptop to do a little work and BINGO, I saw that I had access to the new in-flight wireless being rolled out on several flights these days the worm has turned. Now if we can just get electric plugs and on-demand media consoles in every seat.
Speaking of Meyer Lemons, its been a while since I offered this recipe, but when I see the first winter crop of Meyers I always do two things. Split and pack (ball jars work well) a few dozen of the lemons in sea salt seasoned with whole dried chiles for a North African preserved lemon condiment that I use all year long and I also make as many of these pound cakes as I can. The recipe is one I got years ago from Claudia Fleming, and it’s the old lemon pound cake recipe from Gramercy Tavern. It's ridiculously good. I take the rinds from the squeezed Meyers that are leftover from this recipe and candy them.
Lemon Pound Cake
2 sticks unsalted butter
5 large eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups cake flour plus 2T
large pinch salt
4t grated lemon zest
1t vanilla extract
1/3 cup strained fresh Meyer lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350.
With an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat eggs and 1 cup sugar until thick and pale for 5 minutes.
Sift flour and salt.
Fold zest and flour, in thirds, into eggs.
Whisk 1 cup of this batter into the vanilla and butter.
Fold this into remaining batter.
Pour batter into a buttered and floured loaf pan.
Bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Meanwhile, combine remaining sugar, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan.
Simmer until the sugar dissolves. Adjust the sweetness to suit. I like it tart, you might like a tad more sugar.
Transfer cake to wire rack.
Pierce all over with a cake tester.
Rotating the cake on all four sides, brush with the syrup, finishing with the top.
Let cool and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream seasoned with a smidgen of crème fraiche.