Cafe’ Menu Gallery

Welcome to our “Cafe Menu Gallery” page!  This page comprises a Susitna Cafe’ journal of recipes I’ve tested or developed.  Many of the recipes I created right here at the Susitna Cafe’.

My cooking inspiration?  Well, it frequently comes from our travels.  I’m fascinated by foods and flavors from around the globe…irrespective of where the food was experienced initially (restaurant, ethnic market, grocery store, farm, street vendor, family member or friend), I like to test making the dish at the Cafe’, therefore replicating the initial experience.  Once I understand how to create the flavor(s), I often work to apply the flavor in an entirely different dish…or combine it with other flavors…or, sometimes I just tweak a recipe to make it tastier.

I also find inspiration in the food itself…a fragrant spice, a homegrown herb, a colorful vegetable,  a fresh piece of fish, for example.  It’s all about the flavor and taste for me!

My goal is to write a cookbook or two that people will enjoy.  The cookbook(s) will focus on delicious tasting food…afterall, isn’t really all about the flavor and taste?

Summer 2010

During our travels in Russia,  we experienced many cultural food staples like borscht.  The borscht we ate was usually made with a beef stock base.  Here at the Susitna Cafe’, we’ve worked to develop a vegetarian borscht that incorporates cucumber and herbs…a summer version of borscht versus the winter borscht of Russia.

For a beautiful presentation and variation in flavor, we sometimes make two separate recipes of borscht, a red borscht (using red beets) and a golden yellow borscht (using golden beets)…we incorporate the 2 colors of borscht when we serve the soup…just pour the two colored soups into a bowl…add a dallop of creme fraiche, and swirl.  However you decide to serve this borscht,  I think you will enjoy the delightful and refreshing flavor!

Susitna Cafe’ Borscht

Serves 4


3 beets (1-1.5 pounds), boiled, peeled and diced

3 cups vegetable stock

1-1.5 cups creme fraiche

2 Tablespoons cane sugar

2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons champagne vinegar

1 cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and chopped (plus extra for garnish)

2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped (plus extra for garnish)

2 Tablespoon chives, chopped (plus extra for garnish)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Boil the whole beets (skin on) until tender (about 30-40 minutes).  Allow the beets to come to room temperature.  When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and dice them.

In a large bowl, whisk together the vegetable broth, creme fraiche, sugar, lemon juice and champagne vinegar.  Stir in the diced beets, chopped cucumber, herbs and salt and pepper.  Chill for at least one hour.  Serve with a dallop of creme fraiche and extra garnish.  Wonderful on a hot summer day!

Cook’s Notes:  You may use 3 cubes of Rapunzel Vegetable Bouillon in 3 cups of boiled water if you do not have a good quality vegetable stock on hand…if you use the Rapunzel broth, omit the salt in the recipe.  Note too that you may increase the amount of creme fraiche if you would like a creamier borscht, otherwise 1 cup of creme fraiche will suffice.  Get creative and try sherry vinegar instead of the champagne vinegar…it’s delicious too!

Entice with Spice Saag Paneer

Our Susitna Cafe’ friend and cookbook author, Shubhra Ramineni, has generously shared a recipe excerpt for Saag Paneer from her new cookbook, “Entice with Spice”.  We’ve included her recipe excerpt below.

A book signing of her just released cookbook will be held at Williams Sonoma in Highland Village, Houston, TX USA on October 15, 2010 from 6-8 pm.  For those of you who cannot attend, you may order “Entice with Spice” from Amazon.Com.

We made Shubhra’s recipes for both Saag Paneer and Okra with Onions here at the Cafe’.  These Indian dishes are fragrant, delicious and easy to cook.  Thank you to Shubhra for allowing us a sneak peek at one of her “Entice with Spice” recipes!

Serves 4

1.  Thoroughly wash 1 lb fresh spinach (about 1 bunch). Trim the bottom 1 inch off the stems and discard. Coarsely chop the leaves and remaining stems.

2.  Place the spinach and 1 fully ripe tomato, cut into 4 pieces, in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook it for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. You will soon see the water released from the spinach, and the spinach will reduce in volume.

3.  Add  1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1/4 heaping teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. Stir to combine and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The spinach will become soft and tender, and the tomato will be mushy, and everything will be mixed together well. Remove from the heat and transfer the contents to a blender.

4.  Purée until smooth, but do not liquefy it, and then put the puréed spinach back in the saucepan (or, use an immersion blender and purée right in the saucepan).

5. Pour 3 tablespoons vegetable oil into a small skillet and place over medium heat. When the oil is heated, add 1 1/2 teaspoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger, 1/2 small onion, diced, and 1 fresh finger-length green chili pepper, diced. Sauté until the onion is browned, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Pour into the saucepan with the blended spinach.

6. Add the pan-fried cheese cubes and 1/2 cup heavy cream (add more cream as you desire to make it restaurant style!) Stir to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Enjoy now or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate for later!

Susitna Cafe’ Mediterranean Tofu Burgers

We love Mediterranean food, don’t you?  These tofu burgers are delicious with a dallop of tzatziki sauce, or served on toasted hamburger buns with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and red onion.  We use one key ingredient, Alwadi Gourmet Falafel mix, which contains a dry mix of fava and garbanzo beans.  If you cannot find this mix, I suggest substituting a different dry falafel mix of your choice.  However, do use a falafel mix that includes both fava and garbanzo beans (note that many dry falafel mixes contain only garbanzo beans).  This is simply delicious…

Makes 6-8 tofu burgers


One 7 ounce box of Alwadi Gourmet Falafel mix, reconstitute one envelope according to package directions

1 pound extra firm tofu, chopped fine

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 carrot, grated

1/2 cup red onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup italian parsley, chopped

2 eggs

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 cup olive oil (for pan frying)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a non-stick frying pan until hot.  Meanwhile, form 1/2 inch thick tofu burger patties.  If your mixture is a bit dry and you have difficulty forming the patties, then add a little extra olive oil.

Fry the patties in the hot olive oil for approximately 2 minutes on each side or until they are a toasted brown color.  Serve warm with tzatziki sauce (make your own with 1 cup greek yogurt, 2 Tablespoons chopped cucumber, 1 Tablespoon chopped red onion and 1 teaspoon chopped italian parsley and salt, to taste).

Cook’s Note:  These tofu burgers may be refrigerated and reheated in the microwave.  Be careful to not overheat them in the microwave or they will become dry.

Spring 2010

Cooking in a tangine with preserved lemons and aromatic spices is sooo wonderful!  This delicious dish includes lamb, artichoke hearts and carrots…a true delight served atop couscous!

Susitna Cafe’ Lamb and Artichoke Tangine


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 shallots, chopped

3 lamb shanks

1 can artichoke hearts (frozen will do too)

3 carrots, peeled and sliced in 1 inch chunks

1/3 cup golden raisins

1 preserved lemon, pulp removed and sliced

1 cinnamon stick

2 bay leafs

6 cardamom pods

2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper

2 cups vegetable stock

Heat olive oil in dutch oven.  Saute garlic and shallots.  Add lamb shanks and sear until brown.  Combine all ingredients in a clay tangine (or you may add all the ingredients into your oven proof dutch oven).  Cover with tight lid.   Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the lamb shanks are tender.

Cook and Traveler’s Note:  Our inspiration for this aromatic dish comes from our adventure travel in Algeria.

Uh-oh!  We can’t forget a little dessert in our picnic basket can we?  Let’s surprise everyone with a fresh baked Crostata Di Mele (or apple pie)!

Susitna Cafe’ Apple Pie

(adapted from “Crostata Di Mele” on Cooks.Com)

Dough Ingredients

1 cup organic unbleached flour

1/4 cup organic whole wheat flour

2 Tablespoons cane sugar

1 stick butter, cut into small cubes

2 egg yolks

Pinch of salt

1 lemon rind, grated

Pie Filling Ingredients

3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced

12 ounces apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Sift flour onto a pastry board.  Make a well in the center of the sifted flour and add the remaining dough ingredients.  Work and knead the dough until it forms a ball.  You may need to add a little extra flour to prevent sticking.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

On a floured pastry board, roll-out 2/3 of the dough to make the crust.  Wrap the remaining 1/3 of the dough and place into the refrigerator until we’re ready to make the lattice top crust.  Place the pie crust into an 8 inch pie plate.

Fill the pie crust with the apples by spiraling them from the center to the outer edge of the crust.  Trim the outer edge of the crust.  Cover the apples in the crust with the apricot jam.

Now roll-out the remaining crust and cut lattice strips.  Place the lattice strips atop the pie and weave the ends into the pie crust edge.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake the pie for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Allow the pie to cool to room temperature.  Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.  The pie is now ready to serve at your picnic!

Cook and Traveler’s Note:  Our inspiration for this delightful pie comes from our travels in glorious Italy.

Sure do enjoy summer picnics, don’t you?  Take along this tasty lemony potato salad to enjoy with a basket of fried chicken…yeeeummmm!

Susitna Cafe’ Lemony Chive Potato Salad

Salad Ingredients

2 pounds new potatoes, boiled (dice or whole with skin on)

1 green onion (scallion), chopped fine

Dressing Ingredients

1 garlic clove, crushed

4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

zest of 1 lemon

4 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard (or Grey Poupon Deli Mustard with Horseradish is awfully tasty too…)

2 Tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped

salt and fresh ground peppercorns

First, make the dressing…crush the garlic clove in a pinch or two of salt.  Whisk the garlic and all the remaining dressing ingredients together in a mixing bowl.  Add the potatoes, salt and pepper.  Toss and marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour (overnight is even better).  Stir in the scallions and serve.  Skip-a-dee-doo-dah!

Cook’s Note:  It’s important to use all fresh herbs in this recipe (i.e. no dried substitutions).

Cook and Gardener’s Note:  Inspiration for this dish comes from our love for growing and enjoying flavorful fresh herbs!

I’ve been sooo busy lately…i’ve been testing and developing delicious recipes for Al Fresco dining on the Cafe’ patio…this Kidney Bean Salad is delightful with a crisp glass of sauvignon blanc…

Susitna Cafe’  Al Fresco Kidney Bean Salad


(2) 15 ounce cans organic kidney beans

1/2 red onion, chopped

3 compari tomatoes, deseeded and chopped

1 jalapeno, deseeded and chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped

4 Tablespoons italian parsley, chopped

2 Tablespoons basil, chopped

3 teaspoons mint, chopped

4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

fresh ground pepper

Drain liquid from kidney beans.  Combine all ingredients and allow to marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Serve in a bed of butter lettuce with crusty french bread…yummm!

Cooks Note:  It’s important to use all fresh herbs in this recipe (i.e. no dried substitutions).

Cook and Gardener’s Note:  Inspiration for this dish comes from our love for growing and enjoying flavorful fresh herbs!

Oooh…i just can’t wait for lunch at the Cafe’ today!  The lunch special is Thai Yellow Curry with Mussels

I really enjoy curries…Thai, Malaysian, Indian and Japanese (kare).  I read Rasa Malaysia’s “Thai Yellow Curry with Seafood” recipe recently, and it inspired me to develop a yellow curry recipe for mussels.

The Susitna Cafe’s adapted version includes mussels, carrots, onion and zucchini.  I must give you a head’s up before you try this…the mussels swimming in this delectable sauce are just to die for!  So, if you can deal with that, then by all means cook-up this tasty 30 minute lunch!

Susitna Cafe’ Thai Yellow Curry with Mussels


1/4 cup olive oil

1 sweet onion, chopped

2 carrots, sliced

3 Tablespoons Thai yellow curry paste (I used Kang Curry brand)

2 medium zucchini, sliced

6 ounces lite coconut milk

2 teaspoons fish sauce (I used Phu quoc brand)

2 pounds New Zealand green mussels, thawed (I used mussels on the half-shell vs. mussels in the whole shell)

5 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Heat olive oil in dutch oven under medium heat.  Saute onions and carrots in hot oil til onions are transparent.  Add yellow curry paste and stir until the paste is well blended with the oil, onions and carrots.  Add the sliced zucchini and cook for 2 minutes.  Add coconut milk and fish sauce.  Stir thoroughly.  Add mussels, cover and cook for 5 minutes.  If you use mussels in the whole shell , then steam for 5 minutes with the cover on, or til the shells open.  If the curry is too thick, you can stir-in some water, as needed.

Serve this delectable dish on white rice with fresh sliced basil leaves sprinkled on top.  Most importantly, ENJOY!

Cook’s Note:  It’s important to not overcook the mussels or they can become tough.

Cook and Traveler’s Note:  Our inspiration for Thai cooking comes from our travels in exotic Thailand.


10 responses to “Cafe’ Menu Gallery

  1. Bob Gerik

    I really like curry; that makes me hungry!

  2. gracie

    i made the Lemony Chive Potato Salad
    The first comment i heard was, “Wow. This tastes like summer.” And it REALLY does!

  3. I’m so happy that you enjoyed the summerish lemony chive potato salad Gracie! Uh-oh, don’t forget the apple pie at your summer picnic!

  4. thanks for these delicious recipes–will be trying them out in my kitchen this week!

  5. gracie

    i think the Cafe Menu Gallery is sooooooooo goood – i love the seasonal recipes!!! Summer – with tofu burgers and lemony chive potato salad – yum! What could be better than that? Oh i know – Apple pie for dessert . . .

  6. sophie

    Thank you for the tzatziki sauce recipe!

  7. The saag paneer looks wonderful…very green…were you being good and held back on the cream? 😉
    The home-made paneer cubes look great also.

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