Author Tiffany Winter’s book is much more than a cookbook. Lake Minnetonka Eats: Recipes from the Lake Area’s Favorite Restaurants is more of a celebration of lake life and the rich selection of local restaurants around Lake Minnetonka.
Winter has always called this area home. “I grew up on the lake, and every day I was free from school was spent on the lake,” Winter says. “Whether it was wave-running in the summer or meeting friends out on the bay with our dogs in the winter, everything was centered around the lake.”
The idea for doing a book came to Winter suddenly. She had just finished her MBA at the University of St. Thomas in December 2013, and was working full time at Supervalu in the marketing department. After spending four years dedicating herself to work and school, she was looking for a fun project.
“I love to cook and I literally read entire cookbooks,” Winter says. She also loves dining out at local restaurants, and both Wayzata and Excelsior were experiencing a big restaurant boom when inspiration struck.
In spring 2014, Winter set out to write the cookbook, which was published in summer 2015. To start, she would go to happy hours or lunches at local restaurants and try to track down a chef or owner. She pitched her book not just as a cookbook, but as a celebration of the community and its food. “I would say the book is about 75 percent the stories behind the restaurants, rather than just what they serve,” Winter says.
Many of the restaurateurs she approached jumped at the opportunity to take part. She allowed restaurant owners to select their own recipes, and then interviewed the owners to get the background of the food and the restaurant.
“I wanted to highlight their roles in the community,” Winter says. “The book is more about the stories behind the restaurants and the food scene.”
For the few restaurant owners who were hesitant to be involved, Winter dug in with persistence. Gary Ezell, owner of Joey Nova’s, wasn’t interested at first; he was hesitant to give up recipes and share the secrets behind his restaurant. Joey Nova’s has been an institution since it opened 10 years ago, and Ezell has spent countless hours crafting his recipes. To give those up to a writer he had never met before seemed crazy.
Winter persisted. After about three or four months of talks, Ezell finally agreed to include a recipe. He liked Winter’s philosophy and commitment to the community. Had the book just been about recipes, she might never have gotten one from Joey Nova’s. Ezell took part because Winter wanted to tell a story. “Our business isn’t just about food; it’s about community development,” Ezell says.
Winter convinced him she was about the exact same thing.
Ezell was ecstatic when the book was published. “I am so proud of that book and Tiffany,” Ezell says. “She has a vision for the community, and the book shows that through the many great eats around the lake area.”
To help put the book together, Winter enlisted family friend Mary Stacke. Stacke has lived next to Winter’s parents for 16 years, and knows the whole Winter family well. Stacke, a retired English teacher, had recently finished working on a book about the small town of Navarre, which led Winter to recruit Stacke to edit Lake Minnetonka Eats.
“I admired that Tiffany was very creative and had a great idea, but more than that, her pure dedication and commitment to seeing the project through,” Stacke says.
Overall, the book took Winter about a year to create, from conception to release. That time included hours of interviews with folks at the restaurants and writing all the copy herself.
After all the hard work, Winter ended up with a book unlike anything else available around Lake Minnetonka. It brings not only the recipes of some of your favorite restaurants into your home, but the spirit of the lake as well.
Entertaining with Lake Minnetonka Eats
A three-course meal with some of Winter’s favorite recipes.
Strawberry Watermelon Salad from Coalition
8 oz. mint leaves
½ cup sherry vinegar
Juice from 2 lemons
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups vegetable oil
1 lb. watermelon, peeled and prepared
4 oz. Bibb lettuce
4 oz. mint vinaigrette
10 oz. strawberries, sliced
3 oz. goat cheese
15–20 Marcona almonds
2 tsp. coriander seeds, toasted
Place the first 5 ingredients in a blender. Pulse until mint is blended.With blender on low, drizzle in oil until fully incorporated.
Cut rind off of watermelon and cut watermelon in half. Slice 8 oz. rectangle pieces, about ½ inch thick from each half. Place one piece directly onto a very hot grill and warm for 30–60 seconds. Remove from grill and dice into ½” x ½” pieces. Dice the other piece of watermelon into ½” x ½” pieces.
In a mixing bowl, rip each Bibb lettuce leaf into 4–5 pieces. Toss Bibb lettuce with half of the mint vinaigrette and mound salad on large plate. Place all watermelon and strawberries in bowl and mix with remaining mint vinaigrette. Mound fruit on top of greens. Break up goat cheese into small chunks and place on top of salad. Place Marcona almonds around plate. Sprinkle top of salad with toasted coriander seeds.
Roasted Scottish Salmon and harvest grain salad from Lord Fletcher’s
4 Tbsp. oil, divided
1 ¼ cups celery, chopped
1 ¼ cups carrots, chopped
1 ¼ cups onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. shallots, chopped
4 cups red quinoa
8 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. bacon, diced large
2 cups kale, julienned
4 (6 oz.) Scottish or Norwegian salmon fillets, skin on
Fresh herbs to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sweat the celery, carrot and onion in 2 tbsp. of the oil in a pot. Add garlic and shallots and cook until aromatic. Add the quinoa and chicken stock, cover and simmer over low heat until the stock is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 17 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and let cool. Season with salt and pepper.
Crisp bacon in a sauté pan. Add kale and sauté until tender. In another pan, heat the remaining oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season salmon pieces with salt and pepper. Place salmon in skillet skin side down. Cook for 2 minutes on each side.
Place skillet in oven and roast for an additional 7 - 10 minutes until medium.
Divide quinoa mixture among plates. Top with salmon, skin side up, and fresh herbs.
Linzer Torte from Patisserie Margo
2 cups flour, sifted
½ lb. almonds, ground
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. kirsch or rum
½ tsp. lemon zest, grated
2/3 cup raspberry jam
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix with paddle, then add butter, egg yolks, liquor and lemon zest. Mix on low speed just until all ingredients come together.
Knead dough only enough to create a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Let stand for one hour.
Roll out two thirds of the dough to line a 10-inch cake or tart pan. Spread with the raspberry jam. Roll out remaining third of dough, cut into strips and decorate the top of the tart in a lattice pattern. Brush the rim of the pastry and the lattice with the beaten egg, being careful not to get egg into the jam. Bake for 35 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Serve warm or cold.