hello, robiola

hello, robiola

This extraordinary cheese is part of the family of Robiola’s from the Piedmont region of Italy. I think I had a past life there as I am so drawn to the food and wine elements. White truffles, Barolo and red peppers. Yeah… you were there too, right? These cheeses are produced in dairies in the Langhe area and aged for a short period developing a thin, white, bloomy rind. The Guffanti family are master cheese makers, and honestly this is a cheese for any palate. In ZZest Market’s cheese case is Robiola due Latte, meaning made with two milks (not a Starbucks drink). The milks are both cow and sheep’s milk. This Robiola has a smooth creamy texture and an lovely sweet flavor with slight mushroomy notes and a buttery, milky finish. Of course Robiola is a perfect cheese board, cheese. I love it with cherries, fig jam or orange marmalade. Roasted red peppers and olives are also quite nice. Baguette slices are always perfect but a rustic walnut bread is very lovely. There’s a good one at Costco! I will “cook” with Robiola too. What grows together goes together and think truffle. On my list for dinner this week is, naan bread (yep, Costco again) warmed and slightly crisped in the oven. Spread a luxurious slather of robiola, slivers of prosciutto and topped with wild arugula, a drizzle of white truffle oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Warm Robiola in the oven for a heavenly gooey, cheesy spread. I love it topped with roasted mushrooms and asparagus, here’s a quick recipe and any leftovers can be tossed...
Giada’s Amaretti Cake

Giada’s Amaretti Cake

I have been thinking about this cake lately. It’s been awhile since I’ve made it but, like most of Giada De Laurentis’ recipes it is fool proof. I stocked up on amaretti cookies at the market. We carry Lazzaroni Amaretti for $12.95 a box. You won’t need the whole box so be sure to enjoy the cookies on their own, especially after dinner with a little espresso. Chocolate Amaretti Cake I follow the recipe exactly as written, except, I don’t generally have buttered flavored non stick spray. I usually just use butter. Butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips 1 cup slivered almonds 1 cup baby amaretti cookies (about 2 ounces) 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature 2/3 cup sugar 2 teaspoons grated orange peel 4 large eggs Unsweetened cocoa powder, for sifting Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan the nonstick spray. Refrigerate. Microwave the chocolate until melted and smooth, stirring every 20 seconds, for about 1 minute. Combine the almonds and cookies in processor. Pulse until the almonds and cookies are finely ground. Transfer the nut mixture to a medium bowl. Add the butter and sugar to the processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Add the grated orange peel and pulse briefly, until incorporated. Add the eggs 1 at a time. Blend until the eggs are incorporated. Clean the sides of the mixing bowl and blend again. Add the nut mixture and melted chocolate. Pulse until blended. Clean the sides of the bowl. Blend again. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until...
Serious Milk Chocolate

Serious Milk Chocolate

I’m not a chocolate person. I could probably live without it and don’t crave it, well usually. Like the most interesting man in the world, while I don’t always eat chocolate, when I do, I choose TCHO. Tcho is obsessed with chocolate. Big supporters of Fair Trade they decided to go beyond and actually partner up with their growers. They help with improving the genetics of their plants, improve cacao fermentation by redesigning their fermentaria, and improve cacao drying by designing new drying racks. They also provide sensory training. For some growers they have never even tasted chocolate made from their beans. Tcho has also come up with flavor wheel. “TCHO’s core product principle is flavor. We use our Flavor Wheel to tune each of our chocolates. It’s our roadmap as we hunt the world for the beans we need. The flavor wheel also serves to help you discover your chocolate in a common-sense way.” You can check out the wheel here. I love the Cacao 53% dark milk chocolate. A Hershey Kiss will never pass my lips again this chocolate is intense, complex and simply amazing. It’s dreamy, creamy, slightly fudgy. Like hot chocolate in a bar. When I say hot chocolate I mean real hot chocolate made from milk and cocoa powder, vanilla and sugar, not Swiss Miss. Why is it so darn good? Tcho tells us “Milk chocolate isn’t just one flavor-it’s a complex blend of notes starting with the underlying cacao, then including the creaminess of milk, and the caramel tones that heating milk creates. We have created SeriousMilk chocolates to explore these pure chocolate...
San Francisco Winners

San Francisco Winners

We (just me and my ZZest girls), came back a few days ago from our yearly Fancy Food buying trip. Every January we venture to San Fransisco and eat and eat, drink and drink, and look for the best of the best and most interesting items for ZZest Market. It’s hard work but someones gotta do it so, you are welcome. In all seriousness, it is actually difficult. Picture an enormous convention center filled with booth after booth of deliciousness from all over the world, begging you to taste. And we do, and those tastes add up. We get miserably full. But, we go on. I have a rule. Don’t taste something you have had before and ignore the jelly bellies. That never works… the Jelly Belly booth is popular. This year’s flavors were Emotions. Plus there’s a game, spin the dial and eat the bean it lands on. However, happiness was boring and nothing compared to last years, “rotten selections” of spoiled milk or fish. Keep moving girls. So we walk and we taste, and walk and taste some more. We sampled some fantastic “granola” bars. Check out Regrainedbars. These bars are made from harvested grains from craft breweries, super interesting! We loved Oskri from our neighboring state WI, soooo many flavor options. Simply gorgeous dried fruits for snacking or cheese boards, and these cool little numbers RayZin, wine on the vine. Jerky was the “in thing” this year. We may have to add to our already new line Simply Snackin. Stay tuned. Chocolate is always a big deal and that didn’t change this year. It won’t change...
NYE 2016

NYE 2016

The Chefs have been working on the menu under the careful watch of Chef Justin who, as much as he would love to be in the ZZest kitchen that night,has to do a little chicken frying at that other place… Porch. Been there yet? It’s great! Also, in house Somm, Jason, has been working on some gorgeous wine pairings with Tyler Melton from Libation Project. Jason too, will be busy that night at Porch, but Tyler is stepping in to give us a hand. This is going to be fab menu with some (in Tyler’s words) pretty geeky wine. I like geeky, and I like fun, Tyler is fun! Call for reservations 507.424.0080. Two seatings 6pm and 8:30pm ZZest NYE Chef’s Tasting 6 courses $65 wine pairing $25 1- charcuterie and cheese . accoutrements 2- chanterelle mushroom soup . parsnip . chestnut . pickled pear 3- clam . potato . herb gelee . house oyster cracker . intermezzo – thai basil . black pepper . caramelized pineapple 4 -braised lamb . cavatelli pasta . cavolo nero . pomegranate . ramp vinegar . coffee 5- veal leg steak . sunchoke . soybean . pickled cauliflower. dukkah . brown butter 6- black tea cake . creme fraiche . caramelized orange . parmesan and lemon crumble NOTE-Sometimes there’s a last minute substitution needed but so far things are looking...
oh Christmas cheese, oh Christmas cheese, how lovely are your slices

oh Christmas cheese, oh Christmas cheese, how lovely are your slices

I’m not just saying this because I’m a CCP (Certified Cheese Professional), and yes, that’s real, and kind of a big deal. But, cheese really IS perfect for the holidays! #1 Holiday Entertaining. Nothing is easier than cheese. Here’s what you do, click-Cheese Board 101. Your guests will not only think you have slaved over your gorgeous assortment but, they will also think you are very Top Chef-y. Look at you, you with your perfect pairings! Literally, it will take you minutes to assemble. #2 Hostess Gift. Cheese and a box of nutty crackers, for the hostess to enjoy after herparty. Much appreciated. #3 Dinner. With all the hustle and bustle, dinner can be put on the back burner. With cheese in the fridge and an addition of some salami or prosciutto, maybe a few olives, a dab of mustard and jam… Viola! dinner is served! Time to catch up on Walking Dead! After all, tis the season. (Well, for me, that is, gosh that Nigon! he’s despicable). #4 Holiday Happy Hour. Did the neighbors invite you for a little impromptu happy hour? What could you whip together to share? Get your dinner (cheese) left overs out and create one of these! If you think about it, it’s just your cheese board assembled in bites. Be creative, you’re gonna wow them.                 #5 Cheese is the gift for the hard to buy for OR anyone! Select 5 put in a pretty bag, tie a bow. Select 3 add a jam and crackers. Select 1 and a salami. Add some olives, dried fruit...
burrata! baby! it’s what’s for dinner

burrata! baby! it’s what’s for dinner

Tis the time of year when the gardens are glorious. It’s also the time of year I am craving burrata. Burrata is a gorgeous Italian cheese and the ultimate fresh cheese experience. It all starts with a delicate lump of fresh curd. Next, it is stretched to about the size of a coin purse. Then filled with ribbons of fresh curd and sweet cream and tied up from that coin purse to beggars purse with a little twist. This sweet delicate bundle can hold it’s own with just a drizzle of good quality olive oil and salt but when the garden is bursting, why not try these ideas. Always gently scoop the burrata from the brine and let it sit on the sideline on top of a paper towel. And, always, have some great baguette chunks to get every last bite of the milky gloriousness. Slice some watermelon radishes, chop up some fresh herbs toss in a shallow bowl with a drizzle of good peppery olive oil and sea salt. Top with the burrata whole, a bit more oil salt and grinding of pepper. Serve with a spoon. Dig in. Roast or grill some fresh asparagus, cherry tomatoes with a little olive oil and salt. Arrange on a plate. Top with burrata, fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Let some thinly sliced fennel hang out in a bowl wIth lemon olive oil and about 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic. In 15 minutes tear up the burrata add some fresh mint. Whip up some pasta cooked perfect al dente, of course. Toss with olive oil, add...
all the world is a stage

all the world is a stage

And a “stage” is a big part of ZZest Cafe. The chefs are on stage in our open kitchen. Seated from the counter you can experience the flames, the shouts for “hands”, the clang of the pot meaning there is a round of beer purchased for the kitchen from another satisfied customer. The other “stage” is across the room at the bar. Mixologist and soon to be sommelier Jason has crafted an impressive summer cocktail list. Rather than flames on this stage, it’s flying ice. And the clang here is the always in motion shakers, finishing out the last shake and pouring the colorful mixtures into appropriate glasses. The cocktails colors are bursting of summer. “You wouldn’t like me when I’m green” is a green chartreuse, Hulk inspired color, garnished with a big basil leaf. The “mai tai” is golden hues of two rums and house *orgeat syrup. “Now you see me…” is a blue stunner, featuring plymouth gin, pineapple juice, almond milk and blue curacao. Rounding out the summer stars is ” a mint summer’s night dream”. Playfully pink as a queen fairy’s flush accentuated by a love elixir. So, ZZest has set the stage. We know you have been thinking about cocktails and a great dinner on our patio! Act now, before summer slips away. “Be great in act, as you have been in thought” William Shakespeare...