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Snail in the Park
Slow Food Minnesota’s summer potluck and lecture series:
Vegetable cooking with Jenny Breen, author of Cooking Up the Good Life,
A review with recipes

Sunday, June 26, 2011, 4 – 7 p.m.
Beard’s Plaisance (Lake Harriet, Minneapolis)

Although most Slow Food followers are familiar with vegetable cooking, everyone learned something new at our picnic with Jenny Breen. She showed the audience an easy way to zip off the stems of greens and discussed using richly flavored ingredients, such as nuts and miso, to brighten the flavor of vegetables. Too late for some members of the audience, Jenny described her successful strategy to get children to help in the kitchen and eat their vegetables.

In addition to being a caterer (Good Life Catering) and former restaurateur, Jenny studied public health at the University of Minnesota. At our event she talked about the links between health, nutrition and sustainability.

Jenny demonstrated smoked trout croquettes and greens with miso dressing. These recipes, advice on cooking for a family and a history of the sustainable food movement in Minnesota appear in Jenny’s new book, Cooking Up the Good Life. They are also reprinted at the bottom of this page.

Jenny Breen’s new book is mostly vegetarian. It is filled with healthful, tasty recipes and advice on cooking with kids.

Jenny made a sauté of spring greens with green garlic, garlic scapes and ginger. At the end she mixed in a miso dressing and toasted almonds. (Photos: Val Landwehr)

Smoked trout croquettes were the main course. The croquette base contained potatoes and cornmeal. Jenny served an herbed quark as an accompaniment.

Most of the participants brought salads for the potluck.

Fruit and ginger cookies.

A strawberry-grapefruit Bavarian with its plastic wrap and ice packs.

Two recipes from Cooking Up the Good Life: Creative Recipes for the Family Table by Jenny Breen and Susan Thurston. University of Minnesota Press. 2011.

Early Greens with Miso Dressing and Toasted Almonds

This is the recipe that I use in cooking classes to prove that I can get anyone to eat leafy greens. People love this combination of sweet, spicy, savory, and sour. The toasted sesame oil is balanced by the rice vinegar, which is complemented by the miso (read more about miso in Miso-Sesame pâté, page 1), and tempered by the maple syrup, which works perfectly with the mustard. All of it is topped off with the crunch and flavor of the almonds. The dressing also is delicious on just about any vegetable and even on proteins like tofu and fish.


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 medium onions or 2 leeks, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
2 pounds assorted greens (such as arugula, mustard, or spinach), well rinsed and dried
2 cups sliced or crushed almonds, toasted (see Toasting Nuts, page 207)

1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup (use the maple syrup for a vegan version)
2 tablespoons stone-ground mustard
1/2 cup miso paste
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons tamari

In a saucepan, heat the oils over medium heat, add the onions and sauté until soft, 2 to 3 minutes, then add the garlic and ginger. Add the greens handful by handful, stirring constantly. Saute until all the greens are added and have wilted into a bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove immediately from heat and place in a large bowl. Allow the mixture to cool before adding the toasted almonds.

To make the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, miso paste, sesame oil, olive oil, and tamari in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the greens and toss to mix.

Smoked Trout and Potato Croquettes

I started buying smoked and fresh trout when my business partner, Karn Anderson, and I opened the Good Life Cafe in 1996. It is fun to find interesting and delicious ways to highlight the tender, smoky flavor of the trout, which is easily available from sustainable sources. I have been using Star Prairie smoked trout for more than fifteen years. It is a family-owned sustainable fish farm on the Apple River in Star Prairie, Wisconsin. The fish are caught and smoked weekly, so my order is placed before the fish are caught. They are always tender, fresh, and delicious. It is rewarding and satisfying to know that you are both supporting a small, family-run business whose values you share and using a fresh, high-quality product. You can taste the difference. These croquettes can be fancy as appetizers, casual as burgers, or anything in between. They are delicious alone, with greens or grains, or on a fresh bun with condiments.

2 pounds (about 8) red or yellow potatoes, chopped
4 ounces butter or olive oil (optional)
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil for sautéing
6 to 8 eggs
12 ounces smoked trout, skinned and boned
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary (see Growing Green Flavor, page 64) or 1 tablespoon dried
Salt and pepper
1 to 2 cups cornmeal
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (peanut oil works well because it has a high smoke point) for frying (optional)

Cook the potatoes in boiling water until soft and drain off the water. Mash as for mashed potatoes, adding the butter or olive oil if desired. Set aside. Sauté the onions in a tablespoon of olive oil until they are translucent. Combine the onions, eggs, trout, and rosemary with the potatoes and mix well. Add cornmeal as needed to thicken the consistency. You should be able to form a solid but moist ball with your hands. Add salt and pepper to taste. Form into golf ball-sized balls or slightly larger patties. Fry the croquettes in hot oil until they are evenly browned or bake them in a 375 degree oven until brown (about 20 to 25 minutes).

Serve with goat cheese or aioli (you can mix fresh garlic or herbs into your favorite mayonnaise to make a perfect aioli for these or any other burgers).

:: :: ::

Another requested recipe, not from Cooking Up the Good Life:

Strawberry-Grapefruit Bavarian

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 pint strawberries, washed, hulled and finely diced (around 12 oz. before hulling)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/4 cups water
4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (or 2 packets)
Grated rind from one large grapefruit
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1/2 cup cream, whipped
1/2 cup plain yogurt

1. Sprinkle one-half cup of the sugar over the strawberries and set aside for at least 30 minutes.

2. Mix the remaining cup of sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Stir in 1 3/4 cups of the water. Soften the gelatin in the remaining 1/2 cup of water and set aside.

3. Bring the cornstarch mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook two minutes. Stir in the softened gelatin until dissolved.

4. Stir in the grated rind and juice. Stir in the strawberry-sugar mixture and any liquid that has formed.

5. Chill the mixture until it starts to thicken, folding occasionally; Be sure that the mixture is thick enough so the berries don’t rise to the top. The surface should have gentle hills after folding. To hasten the process, put the mixture in a bowl and set in an ice-water bath. Fold in the cream and spoon into a bowl or 3/4- to 1-cup individual dishes.

6. Chill several hours or overnight. Yield: Eight or more servings.

Adapted by Jane Rosemarin from a recipe that appeared in the New York Times on a Wednesday in the 1970’s.

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