Biblio Bistro

Biblio Bistro (BB) is a fun, quick, and dynamic cooking series featuring local, nutritious, and seasonal produce. Biblio Bistro is led by Chef Michael and Dietitian Meghan and will include basic cooking instructions and nutrition information about the ingredients used. This series aims to be accessible to all cooking comfort levels, ranging from the beginner’s cook to a well-tuned chef. Shopping lists and recipes will be provided 1 week before the videos are available and participants are encouraged to cook along with Michael and Meghan. Feel free to share photos of your culinary creations using #BiblioBistro on Facebook or Instagram. We promise your taste buds won’t be disappointed!

Our Mission

The Biblio Bistro series strives to show that healthy cooking doesn’t have to be boring or laborious. Our goal is that by watching this series, participants can feel more confident and curious in the kitchen, all the while increasing fruit and veggie intake and supporting the local food system!

Meet the Team

About Michael


Michael currently resides in Redridge with his husband, dogs, and chickens and enjoys living the good life on the big lake. He joined the PLDL family as the Program Coordinator in Feb 2019. Prior to this he was a goat herder, cheesemaker, and chef on the Bayfield, WI peninsula. Creating great tasting and nutritious food has always been his passion, from cooking professionally to back yard gardening and he is very excited to be on the BB team.

Favorite Food(s): Dark chocolate, aged cheese, and olives. He also loves Japanese food!
Favorite Color: Rainbow
Fun Fact: Michael can milk a goat in under 3 minutes!

 

About Meghan


Meghan is a registered dietitian and started working as a Community Health Educator with the Portage Health Foundation (PHF) in May 2020. Prior to her new role at PHF, she spent the last 4 years as a clinical dietitian in the Keweenaw area, where she provided nutrition education in a variety of settings. She was raised in Houghton and loves the beautiful outdoors of the Upper Peninsula. In her free time, she likes to run, cook, and spend time with her husband and puppy (Fig). She couldn’t be more excited to be part of the BB program!

Favorite Food(s): Peanut Butter and raspberries. She also loves Ethiopian food!
Favorite Color: Eggshell Yellow
Fun Fact: While Meghan has lived in Houghton since she was 3 months old, she was born in Wisconsin. She is also lactose intolerant, which makes her a lactose intolerant cheesehead!!

Episodes – Season 2 (2021)

Rosemary and Cauliflower Potato Mash

This twist on traditional mashed potatoes lightens the carbohydrate content,but sacrifices none of the flavor! This recipe would be great to try at Thanksgiving or with a traditional pot roast supper.In total, this recipe was only $9.86 to prepare, or $1.24 per serving!

Healthy Eating Tips from Dietitian Meghan

  • Lighter Carb Content– By using a blend potatoes and cauliflower for this dish, you get the best of both worlds – the texture and flavor of potatoes and a lighter carb load, thanks to the cauliflower.  
  • Cauliflower – Cauliflower and broccoli have similar nutritional profiles. These types of veggies, in addition to cabbage and brussels sprouts, have a sulfur compound which is linked to cancer protective qualities, particularly with colon cancer. This dish is suitable for those that have irritable bowel syndrome or sensitive digestive systems, since the broccoli and cauliflower are well-cooked!
  • Potatoes – The skin of the potatoes contains more fiber. Most people prefer to peel potatoes for mashed potatoes, which is also okay! There are other ways to get your daily fiber in too if the texture isn’t working for you
  • Vegetarian/Vegan Adaptable – While this recipe calls for milk, butter, and chicken stock, you could easily substitute vegetable stock or broth if looking to make this dish vegetarian. For a vegan version, swap the regular milk for unsweetened plant milk of choice and using a vegan butter (in addition to the veggie stock).

Cooking Tips from Michael

  • To cut cauliflower, first cut off the bottom and pluck or peel leaves off until just the florets remain. Cut the head of cauliflower in half to create a flat surface. You can remove the core of the cauliflower; however, this part is edible and would work in this dish. Cut the remaining cauliflower into smaller florets (you’d cut broccoli similarly).
  • You can use a whisk if you don’t have a potato masher, although it will take more time. A whisk will also produce a chunkier product, so if you prefer completely smooth mashed potatoes, stick with a masher or immersion blender.
  • You can leave the skin on the potatoes to save time and add texture and fiber. If choosing to keep the skin on, red potatoes and yukon gold tend to have a more delicate skin that works well in mashed potatoes.
  • Upgrading your butter is a simple way to elevate your dish without breaking the bank.

Feta, Garbanzo, and Eggplant Pita Sandwiches

This Mediterranean-inspired dish is a creative way to try eggplant and is completely vegetarian! The lemon juice lightens this meal, while the feta adds some creaminess. Protein and fiber are plentiful with this dish, between the chickpeas, eggplant, and whole-grain pita (if using). In total, this recipe was only $11.40 to prepare, or $1.90 per serving!

Healthy Eating Tips from Dietitian Meghan

  • Vegetarian-Friendly Option– This recipe is completely vegetarian and can easily be made vegan if the feta is left out. The protein content from this dish comes from the chickpeas and feta (if using).  
  • Packed with Fiber – The dish is abundant in fiber between the chickpeas, eggplant, and whole-grain pita! 1 cup of raw eggplant contains about 3 grams of fiber alone! Current recommendations for daily fiber intake is at least 25 grams.
  • Eggplant – The skin of the eggplant is edible and contains much of the fiber found in eggplant. The skin can be bitter, so leaving it on vs. peeling comes down to personal preference.

Cooking Tips from Michael

  • To safely cut an eggplant, the first step is to create a flat surface. To do this, remove the stem by slicing off horizontally. Lay the eggplant cut- side down (flat surface). If peeling, begin to slice along the contour of the eggplant. If you are uncomfortable with this method, you can also use a veggie peeler. Cut the eggplant length-wise into large “steaks”. To cut down on time, you can hold the eggplant steaks together, and begin slicing downwards to create smaller strips. This will speed up the dicing process. If uncomfortable with this, you can cut into small strips by sections of the eggplant vs. the entire eggplant all at once.
  • Eggplant is a veggie that tends to be more absorbent, which means it will generally soak up a lot of oil. If you need to cook other items in oil (like onions), cook those first so you don’t end up using an excessive amount of oil. It’s also a good idea to plan to use a little extra oil compared to what the recipe calls for in case the eggplant ends up absorbing more oil than anticipated.
  • Cumin is a unique flavor and tends to be rather bold. You may want to try a small amount sprinkled on something first before using in the dish, if you’ve never had it before.
  • Toasting the pita prior to eating is recommended!

Salmon with Citrus Salsa

This episode of Biblio Bistro features Salmon with Citrus Salsa which highlights fresh plum tomatoes and basil. Tomatoes are usually available at Farmers Markets in late-summer through early fall. Basil is usually available at Farmers Markets in mid-summer. Fresh fish can also be found at our local farmers markets or you can search here.

Healthy Eating Tips from Dietitian Meghan

  • Tomato – Tomatoes are abundant with vitamins and minerals that are linked with heart health.
  • Pineapple – This tropical fruit contains enzymes that help with digestion. For those that have a slower digestive system, eating pineapple is a natural way to help keep things moving in the gut!
  • Trout – Most fish, trout included, are considered to be heart healthy proteins. Fish is generally a lean (low-fat) protein option, but even those that are fattier contain healthful fats, which are linked to improved heart and brain health.

Cooking Tips from Michael

  • Fish should have an internal temp of 145 degrees F before eating.
  • You can also check to see if the fish is fully cooked with the fork test. It should easily flake and have a slight firmness.
  • If you don’t like to eat the skin, you can lift the spatula underneath to separate the flesh from the skin. The skin is edible for those that enjoy eating it.

Fish Facts from Dr. Lauren

  • You can generally swap out whatever type of fish you prefer in recipes. Fish like salmon tend to have a bolder flavor, so if trying fish for the first-time white fish or trout may be a good starting point.
  • ~80% of our seafood is imported, so often when you buy fresh fish from the grocery stores, it is not from our region or even from the US.
  • Fish is considered to be one of the most sustainable proteins when compared to beef, chicken, or pork.
  • To catch your own fish, you’d need a state license, bait, tackle, fishing pole, fishing string and hooks.
  • For farm-raised vs wild-caught fish, the nutritional profile is typically pretty similar. Generally, the most important thing is that the fishery is following appropriate quality and safety measures.

Slow-Cooked Summer Squash

This episode of Biblio Bistro features Slow-Cooked Summer Squash which highlights fresh summer squash and thyme. Summer squash is usually available at Farmers Markets in mid-to-late summer.

In total, this recipe was only $9.07 to prepare, or $1.52 per serving!

Healthy Eating Tips from Dietitian Meghan

  • Zucchini/Summer Squash – Zucchini has higher water content than most vegetables. This makes it a hydrating choice for those hot summer days!

Cooking Tips from Michael

  • For the zucchini, you can cut into whatever shapes you’d like. Cutting into small coins would be the quickest method (and looks beautiful!)
  • If able, using a microplane to zest the lemon will speed up the time and avoid any injuries compared to a traditional box grater.
  • While the zucchini is roasted for a longer period of time than traditional recipes, because it’s roasted at a lower temperature it still holds up some texture!

Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto

This recipe is a great way to use all parts of the carrot and reduce food waste in the kitchen! Roasting the carrots brings out its natural sweetness and pesto dressing adds a fresh, but also rich addition.

In total, this recipe was only $13.13 to prepare, or $1.64 per serving!

Healthy Eating Tips from Dietician Meghan

  • Carrots & Basil – Both of these summer treasures are a good source of Vitamin A, which is a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin A has been associated with immune support, skin and eye health.
  • Olive Oil & Nuts – These are healthy fats that help absorb the vitamins in the dish.
  • Parmesan – This type of cheese has been aged for a long time, which means it has a lower lactose content. For those that can tolerate some dairy but are lactose-intolerant, this would be a good cheese to include in your diet.
  • Dairy-Free Alternative Nutritional yeast is a great vegan alternative to parmesan cheese in this dish. Nutritional yeast is a good source of vitamin B12, which is a nutrient that vegetarians and vegans are more commonly deficient in.
  • Carrot Greens (Tops) – Carrot tops are considered to have a more bitter flavor. Bitter greens, such as carrot tops, have been found to help improve digestion and are often recommended for individuals with irritable bowel or other gut sensitivities.

Cooking Tips from Michael

  • Instead of roasting the whole carrot, you can slice into smaller pieces to speed up the cook time. To cut similar to the recipe, check out this tutorial from Bon Appétit.  
  • Garlic scapes can be used instead of garlic cloves. They have a milder flavor, but also have a tougher texture. If able, a food processor will help break down the scapes to an appropriate texture for pesto.  
  • Instead of grating or using a microplane to get finely grated parmesan, you can put the chunk of parmesan in the food processor until it is finely grated. No fancy attachments needed! You can store the remaining grated cheese in the fridge until you’re ready to use it again.
  • You could substitute any nut you prefer instead of pine nuts for pesto. Some may be more difficult to grind down in the food processor. You can also toast the nuts to release extra oil prior to adding to the pesto.

Make Yummy Kohlrabi Slaw!

Kohlrabi is often seen as an intimidating vegetable, but hopefully this recipe will show you it doesn’t need to be! Kohlrabi tastes like a cross between broccoli and an apple and has a crisp and crunchy texture. The bright and tangy dressing compliments the mild and slightly sweet taste of the kohlrabi.

In total, this recipe was $16.28 to prepare, or $2.71 per serving!

Healthy Eating Tips from Dietitian Meghan

  • Kohlrabi – Kohlrabi is a unique looking veggie that is commonly found at Farmers Markets. It is a good source of potassium, which can help control blood pressure and reduce muscle spasms (think charley horse). Kohlrabi is also a fiber-rich veggie, packing in 5 grams fiber per 1 cup! You can also eat and cook the stems of kohlrabi. For those who are uncomfortable using kohlrabi, cabbage could be used instead.  
  • Cilantro – Research has linked certain compounds in cilantro to aid in digestion and help keep things moving in the gut. Some of the antioxidants found in cilantro are associated with improved blood pressure. For those that dislike cilantro, parsley could be used in this recipe instead of cilantro.
  • Flavor Wave – The longer the slaw sits in the dressing, the more flavor it will soak up! This dish has a sweet, salty, spicy vibe going on – the perfect ode to summer!
  • Bring on the Veggies – You could any additional veggies you enjoy to add more variety, color, and flavor to this dish!

Cooking Tips from Michael

  • Kohlrabi is a colder weather crop and is typically found in the local Farmers Markets starting in June. It tastes like a sweeter version of broccoli and has a similar taste and texture to broccoli stems. It does have a thick skin, so it is best to cut off the top and bottom with a very sharp knife and then use a veggie peeler to remove the remaining skin.
  • You can create match stick kohlrabi slices a few different ways (match stick = very thinly sliced, about the width of a match stick!). You can slice them by hand, although this takes the most time and skill. To speed up the process, you can use a box grater or a food processor with a grater attachment.
  • To avoid the dreaded fire eye when chopping jalapeños, first cut the pepper length-wise. Use a clean spoon to scrape out the seeds without touching them. The seeds contain the majority of the burning heat associated with peppers. Chop once the seeds have been removed. If you do end up touching any of the seeds, thoroughly wash your hands prior to touching your face or eyes.
  • Remove the stems from your cilantro to avoid a bitter taste. This does take extra time, but is worth the effort!

How to Make Asparagus and Bok Choy Frittata

This episode of Biblio Bistro features Asparagus and Bok Choy Frittata which highlights fresh asparagus, bok choy, and locally raised eggs. Asparagus is seasonally available in late spring to early summer and bok choy is usually available at Farmers Markets in early-t0-mid-summer through early fall.

About Asparagus Bok Choy Frittata

Frittata is a great one-pan meal that can be eaten at breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Frittata is essentially a crustless quiche, typically containing a combination of veggies, cheese, and/or meat.

In total, this recipe was only $2.70 to prepare, or $0.68 per serving! Because we used eggs from Michael’s chickens, we calculated our eggs as free of charge. If purchasing eggs from the store, the recipe is $4.95 to prepare, or $1.24 per serving.

Healthy Eating Tips from Dietitian Meghan

  • Asparagus & Bok Choy – Both vegetables are rich sources of Vitamin C and E. These vitamins are linked to immune support and skin health. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, so using the whole egg provides beneficial fat to help your body properly absorb this vitamin.
  • Eggs – Strongly encourage the use of whole eggs vs egg whites. Previously eating too many egg yolks was thought to increase cardiovascular risk, however more current research indicates that yolks do not need to be limited and even provide some health benefits. Yolks have heart-healthy fats, especially when pasture raised, and also contain naturally occurring Vitamin D, which is hard to come by in foods.
  • Dairy Free – This recipe doesn’t contain any milk products, so would be suitable for those with milk allergies or who are lactose-intolerant.
  • Cast-Iron Skillet – When you cook foods in a cast-iron skillet, they actually absorb some iron! If you have low-iron levels, this is a simple way to increase your iron intake naturally through foods.

Cooking Tips from Chef Michael

  • You could use either an oven-proof non-stick pan or a cast iron skillet for this recipe. Make sure that your non-stick pan does not have a plastic handle.
  • If using a cast iron skillet for this recipe, use more oil than you would normally for a recipe. This will ensure your frittata doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • To season your cast iron skillet, avoid using soap when cleaning. Instead, use warm water and a scrubber (if needed). Dry well, and then coat with oil. Avoid cooking any acidic items, such as vinegar-based dishes, tomato or citrus products in a cast-iron skillet.
  • You can make a frittata with pretty much any veggies you have on hand!
  • You can cut asparagus in half length-wise first, to cut down on cook-time. You can also save the woody end of the stalks and use in a homemade veggie broth to reduce food waste.
  • For a dairy-free way to make eggs fluffier, add a small amount of water prior to mixing/whisking. A little goes a long way!

Learn to Love Minestrone Soup

This episode of Biblio Bistro features Minestrone which highlights several fresh veggies, including zucchini, carrots, onions, and parsley. Most of the produce used is available at Farmers Markets throughout mid-to-late summer.

About Minestrone Soup

Minestrone is a hearty soup loaded with fiber-rich vegetables and grains. Minestrone is a versatile soup, but is typically made with broth or water and has tomatoes and beans. By adding quinoa, in addition to the chickpeas, this soup also contains more protein compared to other types of soup and is also gluten-free. Feel free to swap out whatever veggies you have on hand or add even more veggies than what’s listed!

In total, this recipe was only $13.46 to prepare, or $2.24 per serving!

Healthy Eating Tips from Dietitian Meghan

  • Bell Pepper –Rich source of Vitamin C (1 bell pepper contains over 100% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C!). Vitamin C is good for skin health and immune support.
  • Carrots – Carrots are a rich source of Vitamin A, which supports skin and immune health. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning your body cannot properly absorb this nutrient unless it is consumed with some source of oil or fat. Some olive oil was used in this recipe, which would count as a fat source for absorption. Adding parmesan as an additional fat source would also enhance absorption of this vitamin. 
  • Quinoa – Quinoa was used in place of pasta in this recipe and has more protein and fiber compared to other grains. Quinoa is also naturally gluten-free, making this dish safe for those who have a wheat/gluten intolerance or a gluten allergy.
  • Versatile – You can swap out different veggies or simply add more if you’d like!
  • Extra Flavor – You could use veggie broth vs. water, if desired. Could also use chicken broth in place of water, however the dish would no longer be vegetarian.

Cooking Tips from Chef Michael

  • To easily and safely chop an onion, remove the ends and cut in half to create a flat surface to cut with. To quickly dice onion, you can cut into strips horizontally, and then switch to vertical cuts!
  • To dice whole carrots, cut in half length-wise to create a flat surface prior to dicing.
  • Green bell peppers can have a bitter taste, especially when raw, but when cooked down in a recipe like this soup, it will typically lose its bitterness. Green peppers are generally the most budget-friendly as well.
  • This recipe can be made quickly, but if you have more time, it would be even more flavorful if cooked longer and slower.
  • Rinsing canned beans is recommended.
  • Using a microplane, which is an inexpensive handheld grater, is a very useful tool that can help speed up grating or mincing ingredients like parmesan cheese, chocolate, or garlic.

Citrusy Green Beans – A Light and Citrusy Twist on Steamed Green beans

This episode of Biblio Bistro features Citrusy Green Beans which highlights green beans and citrus. Green beans are usually available at Farmers Markets in mid-to-late summer through early fall. Michael and Meghan used frozen green beans for this episode, which are a nutritious and budget-friendly option in the off-season. Citrus was also used, which is in peak season during the winter months!

About Citrusy Green Beans

This light and citrusy twist on steamed green beans is great for a quick healthy summer (or summer-inspired) side dish. Enjoy hot or cold. The more it sits in the marinade, the more it soaks up the flavor!

In total, this recipe was only $4.13 to prepare, or $1.03 per serving!

Learn to Cook Delicious Eggroll Bowls

Biblio Bistro is back for 2021 and kicks off with a good one! This episode features Eggroll Bowls, which highlights fresh cabbage. Cabbage is seasonally available in late fall through winter and is usually available at Farmers Markets in early-to-mid-summer through early fall.

About Eggroll Bowls

This recipe is a quick, tasty, and nutritious way to satisfy your eggroll craving! The fresh ginger and garlic add extra flavor and a slight spicy punch. The sliced cabbage and carrots provide fiber, antioxidants and a delightful crunch to this easy weeknight dish.

In total, this recipe was only $6.62 to prepare, or $1.66 per serving!

Healthy Eating Tips from Dietitian Meghan

  • Cabbage – Cabbage is considered a cruciferous vegetable (broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts are also in that same category). Research suggests that these types of veggies are protective against colon cancer. They are also linked to contributing to good gut health. These types of veggies do tend to be harder to digest for some, such as individuals with irritable bowel syndrome. Cooking these types of veggies may be better tolerated for these individuals. 
  • Carrots – Carrots are a rich source of Vitamin A, which supports eye, skin and immune health. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning your body cannot properly absorb this nutrient unless it is consumed with some fat. In this recipe the olive and sesame oil, as well as some fat from the pork meat, all count towards a fat source so that the vitamin A can be adequately absorbed and utilized in the body!
  • Pork – Pork provides protein for this dish, which will help keep you full for a longer period of time. After you’re done handling raw meat, make sure you wash your hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds (two sets of “Happy Birthday”) before moving on to the next step in the recipe.

Cooking Tips from Chef Michael

  • For well-cooked, but crisp veggies, try not to overcrowd your frying pan (1 inch-thick layer is a good rule of thumb). If your pan isn’t big enough, cook ingredients in batches and add back together at the very end. You also want a relatively high heat to get the veggies crisp, but still cooked well enough.
  • For a quick and easy way to peel ginger, you can scrape with a good old fashioned spoon (metal would work best). The time you’ll save is just short of magic.
  • When cooking with raw meat, you want to avoid any cross contamination with other surfaces or ingredients you’ll be using. Have a designated bowl or cutting board for meat, and remove it from the cooking area as soon as you’re done using. Make sure the area you were prepping the raw meat has been sanitized and that your hands are clean (whether that means sanitizing your hands with warm water and soap or discarding your contaminated rubber gloves).
  • Make sure to temp any raw meat that you’re cooking. For pork, the internal temperature needs to be 145 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to avoid foodborne illness.

Episodes – Season 1 (2020)

Step-by-Step Directions to Make Chimichurri Sauce – Episode 1

How to Make the Best Quinoa and Fresh Herb Salad – Episode 2

Explore your kitchen by making Wilted Chard – Episode 3

The Perfect Way to Enjoy Beets is a Warm Beet Salad – Episode 4

This Slow-Cooked Kale Recipe is Perfect for Fall – Episode 5

Squish Your Squash-Cooking Fears with Biblio Bistro – Episode 6

Recipes

Slow-Cooked Winter Squash
This recipe is simple and nourishing comfort food at its best. The sage and thyme create notes similar to a Thanksgiving stuffing and winter squash tastes extra sweet when roasted. Depending what type of winter squash is used, the texture can be almost creamy. Regardless of which winter squash you choose, this dish will be deliciously rich and full of antioxidants. Enjoy!

Warm Beet Salad
This recipe allows the natural sweetness of beets to shine. By using the beet greens, which are edible (and delicious), this recipe also reduces typical food waste and encourages use of the whole plant. For those adding goat cheese or feta, there is a tangy and sweet combination that is simply divine! The slivered almonds are the icing on the cake, providing extra texture
to this dish. This dish can also be served hot or cold and is equally delicious. Bonus!

Wilted Chard
Chard is like the colorful cousin to spinach, and is very similar in taste and use. This recipe uses both the stems and the leaves, which are equally edible and delicious! The vinegar adds a bit of tang and helps brighten up the dish. This is also a low-maintenance recipe that can be whipped together in less than 15 minutes!

Chimichurri Sauce
Chimichurri is a bright fresh sauce made with olive oil, fresh herbs, garlic and spices. Traditionally it is used as a sauce to serve over meats, however chimichurri is extremely versatile! Try adding to scrambled eggs, tacos, on sandwiches or wraps, on top of rice/pasta, or simply dip bread in it. The possibilities are endless!

Quinoa and Fresh Herb
This plant-forward dish is a great gluten-free pasta salad alternative and is also completely vegan! This dish is a dietitian’s dream—it is a good source of protein from the quinoa and sunflower seeds; packed with fiber from the avocado, kale and sunflower seeds; and abundant in antioxidants from the fresh herbs, kale and avocado. The fresh herbs and lime juice/zest make this the perfect dish for summer time!

Slow-Cooked Kale
The fifth episode of Biblio Bistro highlights slow-cooked kale, which is a delicious recipe using ingredients mostly available at the Copper Country’s amazing farmers markets. The kale and several other items were purchased at the Downtown Houghton Farmers Market. Slow cooking the kale creates a milder and less bitter taste and a softer texture. The rosemary and onion add flavors reminiscent of pot roast or stew. This recipe is a great starting place to try kale in a new and exciting way! In total this recipe was only $7.41 to prepare. That adds up to $2.47 per serving.