Amanda Rettke of I Am Baker on "Surprise-Inside Cakes" [VIDEO]

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Courtesy Surprise Inside Cakes

"Love to cook, hate to bake" is a commonly held sentiment among chefs. Why? Baking in general, and confection in particular, has a reputation for being tedious, inflexible, and focused on perfection. But baking blogger and cookbook author Amanda Rettke thinks that shouldn't be the case. She makes what she calls "Surprise-Inside" cakes, which when sliced into reveal three-dimensional, multilayered, rainbow-colored shapes and images. They may look complicated, but Rettke says the stakes with baking like this are actually pretty low. Her methods work just as well with boxed mixes (though she does encourage using homemade frosting) and she makes a very good point about the upside of screwing up when you bake: "You can always eat the evidence." 

Rettke has a book signing and baking demonstration coming up this Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Kitchen in the Market at Midtown Global Market, where you can sample treats, drink bubbly, and see how, exactly, she gets cake inside of cake. We caught up with Rettke to chat about her most ambitious designs, the cons of writing a book about something new, and the best food dye for the job.

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Tricia Cornell on how to shop Minnesota's farmers markets like a pro [RECIPE]

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The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook by Tricia Cornell

It seems like a shopping no-brainer: instead of getting in your gas guzzler and motoring across town to a big box grocery store for your imported asparagus from Peru or heads of garlic from China, you spend your hard-earned food budget at your neighborhood farmers market, supporting the farmers who live and work near you, and getting the best quality produce you can. So why are so many people intimidated by the farmers market, and so few see it as a legitimate place to shop and feed their families?

Tricia Cornell tackles this question in her latest book, The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook. Brimming with easy to accomplish recipes, the book also includes a comprehensive directory of farmers markets throughout the region, and helpful notes on each type of produce covered, so you can shop and cook with confidence. She took the time to chat with us about kohlrabi, the lies we've been told about stir fries, and all of her best tips for shopping locally like a pro.

The Hot Dish: Describe your new cookbook. What should readers expect?

Tricia Cornell: The most exciting thing about The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook is that it's organized by product, so that you can experience it the same way you experience the farmers market. You can either start at the beginning of a row and walk all the way through, or you can drop in and see what you see in front of you, or you can go straight to the beets if you need beets. So the book is organized that same way.

HD: Why did you decide to write this book? Your previous book, Eat More Vegetables, tackles the questions of what to do with your seasonal produce. How does this book differ from or expand on the first?

Well, that book was also a lot of fun to write. That was 100% my recipes and the foods that my family eats at home. This book allowed me to talk to a lot of really dedicated farmers and chefs, some of them practically celebrities here in Minnesota and some them ordinary farmers market fellows. And the other thing is that this book allowed me to get really in depth and geeky on each vegetable in a way that I wasn't able to do so much in the first book. I take you through how to find a vegetable, when to buy it, what to when you get it home, how to store it...So, yeah, it's a little geekier on the vegetable front.

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Lenny Russo signs book deal for new cookbook

Categories: Cookbooks
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Courtesy of Lenny Russo
Chef and soon-to-be author Lenny Russo
It's been a big year for Lenny Russo.  From traveling Slovenia and filming a television show to surviving what could have been a deadly car crash to recommitting himself to health, the award-winning chef has hardly found a moment to stop moving. Now, he has finally announced what many fans have long been waiting for: He's writing a cookbook.

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Heavy Table's Secret Atlas release parties and tasting events

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Courtesy Heavy Table
A peek inside the new book from Heavy Table
Fellow local food blog The Heavy Table has just released their first book The Secret Atlas of North Coast Food, and they're throwing a few fun events to promote it.

The book was funded entirely by a successful Kickstarter campaign wherein backers who pledged at the $100 level were allowed to contribute a blurb about their own favorite "hidden gem" restaurant in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Iowa to be included in the book. Other chapters were written by local foodie darlings and experts in their respective fields including Heavy Table's editor James Norton (whose book Lake Superior Flavors is forthcoming); Tim Gihring, former editor for Minnesota Monthly; and man-about-town Andy Sturdevant, author of Potluck Supper with Meeting to Follow.

The release party is tonight at Common Good Books in St. Paul and there will be cheese. Here are the details.

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Minnesota's Newest Food Network Star Debuts Saturday

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Photo courtesy Food Network
Amy Thielen hosts Heartland Table
We're used to eating local, but what about watching local? This weekend Amy Thielen, a Minnesota-grown chef with a New York pedigree will premiere her new show, Heartland Table, on the Food Network.

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Edible Twin Cities, a new cookbook

Categories: Cookbooks
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Reprinted with permission from Edible Twin Cities: The Cookbook © 2013 by Edible Communities, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photographs by Carole Topalian.
Good enough to eat
We were happy to see the new cookbook from Edible Twin Cities  come across our desks. A collection of recipes from local producers, writers, bloggers and chefs, it's a celebration of locavore eating at home. We dug in and decided to put a couple of the recipes to the test.


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Today is Famous Dave Anderson BBQ Party Day!

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Photo courtesy of Famous Dave

"May you always be surrounded by good friends and great barbecue," says Dave Anderson over the phone in lieu of a goodbye. But he's earned the right to those coined phrases: Dave Anderson, a.k.a. Famous Dave of Famous Dave's BBQ, has an abundance of two very important things: ribs and enthusiasm.

Today happens to be a celebration of Anderson's enthusiasm for ribs. Mayor R.T. Rybak has proclaimed today, June 13, Famous Dave Anderson BBQ Party Day, as a sort of congratulations for Anderson's latest book. Famous Dave's BBQ Party Handbook is the tell-all that grillmasters everywhere have been waiting for: the one where Famous Dave himself sheds light not only on the special flavors that season his renowned BBQ, but throws out over 170 recipes on how to throw, as Anderson calls it, the "ultimate BBQ party." Luckily enough, it seems like the weather might finally allow for an actual day of BBQ!

Today, Anderson be signing copies of his new cookbook at the Barnes & Noble in downtown Minneapolis starting at 11:30 a.m. (Click here to preview the book on Amazon.) Hot Dish caught up with the man himself to talk about the inspiration behind the BBQ.


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Piccolo featured in new book about staff meals

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The new book, Come In, We're Closed, features recipes for meals that top restaurants serve to their own employees

Coming soon to a bookstore near you, Come In, We're Closed is a cookbook that documents staff meals at some of the top restaurants in the world and critically acclaimed Minneapolis restaurant Piccolo has made the grade.


The book features over 100 recipes that have been used in restaurant staff meals around the globe, including such legendary places as Mugaritz, WD-50, Cochon, the Fat Duck, and Morimoto.


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Desserts in Jars: a chat with author Shaina Olmanson [RECIPE]

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A taste of Desserts in Jars, available now
This Sunday afternoon at Kitchen in the Market in Midtown Global Market, blogger and author Shaina Olmanson will be signing copies of her new book, Desserts in Jars. Registration is free, and the first 50 attendees will receive a free copy of the book. Before the big bash, we chatted with Olmanson, who writes for Babble, among others, about her first book, blogging, and getting kids in the kitchen. She also shared one of her recipes with us, and it's a keeper.


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Kim Ode's 'Rhubarb Renaissance': How to use your bumper crop [RECIPE]

Categories: Cookbooks

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Minnesota Historical Society Press
Need some rhubarb inspiration? Look no further.
Summer in Minnesota is a beautiful thing. It may be just a few fleeting months, but the seasonal produce is plentiful, interesting, and inspires some of the most memorable dishes we eat all year. Right now we're nearing the end of rhubarb season, and for those of us with home gardens and CSA boxes that means we have more of these sour pink stalks than we know what to do with. 

The Hot Dish caught up with Kim Ode, feature writer for the Star Tribune Variety section and author of the recently released cookbook Rhubarb Renaissance, to pick her brain about changing the reputation of rhubarb as a "dessert only" ingredient, her favorite recipes for this versatile veggie, and what the recipe-testing process is like when you're putting together a cookbook. 

Here are her answers to our most pressing rhubarb-related questions:

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