Specialty Kitchen Shop Shares Abundant Recipes in New Cookbook

by | Sep 2022

Roasted tomatoes, carrots and onions in a sheet pan.

The Abundant Kitchen

Cookbook serves recipes that are “tasty and quick.”

Interestingly, a farm in rural Darwin, Minnesota, and a 100-acre organic farm in County Cork, Ireland, have a someone in common—Becki Melvie, owner of The Abundant Kitchen with locations in Excelsior and Buffalo. (See page 38 for more about the local store.)

Melvie grew up west of the Twin Cities and trained at the Ballymaloe Culinary School (BCS) in Ireland, where she completed an intensive chef certificate program that included all-encompassing techniques, including making French pastry; herb collecting; understanding southeast Asian food and Mexican cuisine from the Oaxacan region; and even learning a recipe for compost.

In many ways, cooks and chefs are educators—teaching through their recipes about culture, agriculture and so much more. With the added title of cooking instructor to her resume, it makes perfect sense that Melvie would share her love of culinary endeavors in The Abundant Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes from the Culinary Classroom for the Family Home Cook.

“Writing a book was something that was a personal goal of my own,” Melvie says. “I’d had small writing projects in the past—a feature on a website, a recipe on a friend’s business page and my own blog with hundreds of recipes … My cookbook reads like a novel with funny and engaging stories leading up to the recipe. You might read this cookbook under a blankie on the couch with a hot cup of tea, notebook by your side creating your grocery list for a recipe you’d like to tackle soon.”

The cookbook, Melvie says, is based off of feedback from people who attend her cooking classes. “I wanted the collection of my recipes to be easy to follow, with ingredients that are easy to find and preparation methods that were basic,” she says. “I wanted recipes that were tasty, quick and would satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Personally, you’ll find me at the local farmers market scouting out that season’s best produce, and I wanted to inspire that in my customers.”

The cookbook includes plenty of recipes that call for a cornucopia of fresh produce and herbs. “If you get to cook with locally-grown ingredients, only simple preparation is truly needed,” Melvie says. “When ingredients don’t travel very far to your plate, a little bit of flaky Maldon [salt] and fresh ground black pepper with a quality olive oil is all you need to make amazing flavors.”

Melvie admits she has a few favorite and go-to recipes in the cookbook, including crêpes and chicken and dumplings. “You’ll likely find the Kale, Sausage and Potato Soup at my family holiday gathering every year,” she says. “The Roasted Beets [recipe] is on weekly rotation for salads during the week. When hunger is overpowering and I’m in a time crunch, my Classic French Omelet really hits the spot—the ultimate fast food.”

The Abundant Kitchen Cookbook

Harvesting Flavor

Go vegetable heavy,” chef Bobby Flay is quoted as saying. “Reverse the psychology of your plate by making meat the side dish and vegetables the main course.” This is not entirely a bad idea, especially if you have a bounty of garden produce to pair off with a delicious recipe that provides vegetables with an applause-worthy main entrée showcase. 

Zoodles are a good way to use up zucchini or summer squash, and Melvie offers a tomato sauce recipe that is the ideal zoodle partner for a veggie-forward entrée. It also pairs well with eggplant (or chicken) Parmesan or as pizza sauce or dip for mozzarella sticks.

Regardless of its use, the sauce has a special ingredient—fennel. “Don’t skip it,” Melvie says. “My preference is to make this sauce at the height of summer produce [season], when tomatoes beg for delicious application and are being dropped at your front doorstep by neighbors with abundant gardens.” Or turn to local farmers markets for paste tomatoes. “They have less juice and are good to make into a thick, rich sauce,” she says. “The end result is a thick tomato sauce.” 

Charred Tomato Sauce with Fennel
Yield: 24–32 oz. (depending on size of tomatoes)

  • 6–8 tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2–4 whole, peeled cloves garlic
  • 1 large sprig oregano, about 1 Tbsp., stem removed
  • 1⁄2 large red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tsp. fennel seed
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp. pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh basil, stems removed
  • 3⁄4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Evenly distribute tomatoes, garlic, oregano, onion, carrot and fennel on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Toss to combine, and coat vegetables. Roast in the oven for about 15–20 minutes, checking at the 15-minute mark. When vegetables start to caramelize and the edges turn slightly black, remove them from the oven. Let cool slightly. Place grilled tomato mixture in a blender or food processor; let steam escape through the feed chute. Process until smooth. Add basil and Parmesan cheese. Run on high speed until well combined. Use immediately or chill well, and place into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to one year.

Destination Yum

“The time at BCS was very magical, and when I would mention my time in Ireland to my customers, people’s eyes would glaze over with this mystified look, as if to say, ‘How could you be so daring as to go to Ireland?’ Well, I wanted to give that feeling to my customers, and it hit me to bring people with me back to Ireland.”

To that end, Melvie and Kayla Johnson, a travel agent with Travel Leaders, created a culinary tour to Ireland in 2021, taking 18 travelers. The group foraged for seaweed, took a cooking class at BCS, ate at five-star restaurants (one of them owned by Bono of U2), enjoyed a double-decker bus tea tour, visited the Ring of Kerry and Dublin Castle, ate goat cheese on a goat farm, tempered chocolate with a French pastry chef and more. “Whew. We did so many amazing things together,” Melvie says.

Next up: They are taking another group to Italy next month (October), and have plans for Ireland in October 2023. Visit the website for information.

The Abundant Kitchen
223 Water St.; 952.401.3682
Facebook: The Abundant Kitchen
Instagram: @theabundantkitchen


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