Archive for November, 2009

Dinner with Rick Nelson…..

20 Nov

This blog is a place for me to get out some thoughts, ideas, have a conversation, and fill people in on what goes on in our restaurant, just in case you are interested.  With that said:  dinner this past Thursday night was a bit different for us.

One of the things you do as a cook, chef, restaurant owner, server, etc. is find out who the food writers are for all publications.  Which is now very difficult.  So many people write about food, you never know who is sitting in the dining room.  Well, the Star Tribune has a gentleman by the name of Rick Nelson writing about food.  He has been writing there for years, and I’m lucky to say that since I was at the Modern Cafe in Minneapolis, Rick and I have had a working relationship.   He knows who we are, I know who he is, so when he comes in he gets the same treatment as everyone else.  This is very serious.  He has a difficult job, and so do we, and knowing that a food writer is in your dining room, is always a bit nerve wracking.

So, what is the point of the post?   Well, it happened that Rick came into the restaurant the other night under an assumed name..   We had no idea and I give him credit for shocking us.  But it doesn’t end there, not only did he and his partner Robert come in for dinner,  but he brought two of the twin cities most well known dinners, Bob and Sue Macdonald.  If you are  in the restaurant industry, you know Bob and Sue.    They are great people that are passionate about food and wine.  They support so many restaurants with both their own dollars, but also by word of mouth.   So, now we have a food writter and a couple twin city heavyweight dinners not only in the restaurant, but at our KITCHEN TABLE.

So, yes. to say the least, we were a bit on edge.   What follows next  are a couple of photos of the night as well as some simple commentary.

Bob and Sue McDonald at Dinner Kitchen Table

The four are engaging in a conversation about a number of restaurants both in and out of the Twin Cities.  I have to say, to be able to listen to that conversation was interesting to say the least.

If you’re ever in the position to cook for Bob and Sue, you soon learn that they are very well informed about food.  They have over the years chronicled their dinning adventures and given hand written notes on what restaurant, what they ate, the chef, the wine, and other notes regarding the experience, to a number of chef’s in the twin cities.

Rick Nelson @ CT Kitchen Table Rick Nelson

 Here is shot right at dessert time, with some Lustau sherry.    The next photo is of Rick Nelson, so if you see him in a restaurant in the twin cities, know that you will more than likely be seeing something about that restaurant in the newspaper some time soon.

I am not going to write about the food here I am sure that you will be seeing something soon (with hopefully some nice things about us) in the Taste section of the Star Tribune.   Thanks again, Rick, Robert, Sue and Bob for a great evening.


Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

13 Nov


Here is a re-cap of the first cooking class.  As you can see we started the class with some notes, and some wine.   This is how all classes should start.

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I also put down some snacks knowing that you are coming from work, so, don’t worry about getting feeding yourself on the way in.


The classes take place right in Corner Table’s kitchen while dinner service is going on.  It is very interactive and spontaneous.  The structure is very free and open. When questions come up with just four people in the class we can just answer then.  The question came up in class of what to cook for vegetarians for Thanksgiving:  my answer was whatever they wanted.  Keep meats out of side dishes, use vegetable broths for cooking so that all the sides are fair-game and that alone can be a great dinner of vegetables, stuffing and… don’t forget the pie.  Stay away from TO-FURKY!! (Sorry, I am sure I am offending someone.)


Number one rule: Season your food.  My turkey gets trussed after the brine, rubbed with lemons, then stuffed with lemon halves to roast, and plenty of pepper.

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We talked about some side dishes and stuffing as well.  I like to make a southern style spoonbread and then use that to add to bread for stuffing.  We also added corn from this season that I have in the freezer, our housemade bacon ( there were no vegetarians in the room), some wild rice and fresh thyme.  I also used a white chicken stock ( on the cutting board) compared to a brown stock ( next to cutting board) which made a great sauce for the stuffing.  The stocks mentioned will be talked about in an upcoming class titled: Pantry.

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More classes to come, some are already sold out.  Remember:  Learn a recipe and you will be able to make that one dish; learn a technique, and you will be able to make whatever you want.

Talking Turkey

03 Nov

This email came to me today.. and made me think of a couple of things.  One, the cooking classes that we have started at Corner Table.  You should go and check them out.    Corner Table cooking classes.  The classes are not your normal, come in, sit down, and just look through all the recipee’s that have been written out for your.  You will be sitting in our kitchen on a Wednesday night. We will be making the recipee as we go and talk about how that happens.  You will be writting the recipee for yourself.   Oh, and at the end of class we will sit and have dinner.   So, come prepared with your questions, and ideas, heck bring those family recipee’s and we will see what we can do about giving them an update using all local ingrediants.


This is from the LocalHarvest crew..

Dear LocalHarvest Customer,

 My Dad called again this morning. After the perfunctory niceties, he launched in: “Have you figured out the menu yet?” For the first time in years, he’s hosting the family for Thanksgiving, and, for reasons that have gone unexplained, put me in charge of the menu.

 “Now, give it some flair, Erin.  Nobody wants the same old thing.”

“Sure, Dad. I’ve got some great new recipes.”

“But don’t stray too far from the basics. People like what they like.” (Pause.)

“I’ll do my best, Dad.”

“Don’t forget to go all out on the pies, all right?”

Me? I live for pie. Of course I’ll go all out.

With Thanksgiving just three weeks from Thursday, you too may be in heavy negotiations over side dishes and desserts. If you are casting about for food inspiration, we invite you to browse through the LocalHarvest catalog. Sometimes high quality ingredients are the thing that sets the meal apart. Not sure what you would do with a heritage bird? We’ve got a great roasted turkey recipe, specifically created for heritage birds. 

 As always, take good care, and eat well, Erin Erin Barnett Director

p.s. Don’t forget the cranberries!