Eat Your Way Through Summer
What to grill, where to drink, how to cook farmers' market finds, and more!
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1. Hot fennel dip: blanch bulb and fronds. Chop and stir into equal parts mayo, cream cheese, and Parmesan.
Smooth into baking dish and heat through.
2. Pulse soft parts of fronds with garlic, lemon, and lots of olive oil. Drizzle over grilled steak.
3. Slice equal amounts of onions and fennel bulbs very thinly.
Cook very slowly in butter over low heat until caramelized. Spread on sandwiches.
4. Slice bulbs in half, brown, and braise in the oven with tarragon and white wine until they melt.
5. Toss chopped fronds with boiled new potatoes.
1. Slice the long way, grill until charred, toss with balsamic vinegar and feta.
2. Grate; toss with flour, salt, and crushed pepitas.
Press into a frying pan with plenty of butter, like a giant hash brown.
3. Slice into coins and dip in tempura batter (half flour, half soda water), deep-fry at 375˚F.
4. Slice thinly and layer with tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and herbs.
Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 375˚F for an hour.
5. Make zucchini-bread batter (a little thin), fry like pancakes.
Chef Shack by the river
The newest incarnation of Chef Shack is the sort of restaurant for which you don’t need an address. You just need to aim: its picturesque setting near Lake Pepin in Bay City, Wisconsin, is little more than a wide spot in the Great River Road. Besides, Twin Cities fans of the Chef Shack food trucks have honed their tracking skills for years. (Hint: take a right just past the “Drive-in Liquor” sign and cross the railroad tracks.) Chef Shack’s Carrie Summer and Lisa Carlson, the pastry and savory chefs, respectively, launched Twin Cities food trucks in 2008—theirs were the Indian-spiced mini-donuts that revved a thousand engines. After looking for a permanent place in the Cities, they landed these bucolic digs—with a cozy fireplace and outdoor pizza oven—instead, which they’ve outfitted in flea-market chic: cut-glass decanters, kerosene lanterns, horse tack, and barn wood from the family farm. The food is no less comforting, if more refined. The ethereal Caesar salad features fresh dill and celery leaves; the house-made charcuterie reprises a food-truck favorite, Thousand Hills beef tongue. The ever-changing entrées span meatloaf to bouillabaisse. And while the Thai curry costs twice as much as city takeout, the flavors are just as fiery sweet and the ingredients better pedigreed. (It’s garnished with crispy bits, like the Thai version of crushed potato chips on hot dish.) And save room: Summer’s elegant, seasonal desserts are inspired. While Carlson cooks, Summer works the dining room: filling water glasses, chatting with guests. Turns out the Chef Shack concept works when it’s fast-paced and when it lingers. • 715-594-3060, chefshack.org –Rachel Hutton