Wednesday, December 22, 2010

if food is love, then

My mother passed away on the day before Thanksgiving...

Not exactly food related news. But as you foodies and friends know well, food is love around here.  So if my heart is broken, I suppose that should affect my cooking.  Even so, I have been surprised how very little desire I've had to cook (not less desire to eat, mind you).  Typically all of my creativity, my love, my person flows through creating meals and delicacies.  But I'm stopped up. I'm numb, and I have no desire to cook.

Although I realize this pain will lessen with time, the Linda-shaped hole will never go away.
She was one of a kind.
She taught me to love.

So I guess that means, she taught me food.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

murphy's law of cooking part 237


1. you are making a cake with a seven minute marshmallow frosting,


2. you have an almost three year old who is technically potty trained, but is still having issues getting to the toilet in time for no. 2

1.  you will hear "I have to go! I have to go!"  right when your syrup is at 240 degrees (2 degrees from when you need to pour it into the egg whites), and shortly before your egg whites are almost fully beaten, destroying both components, causing you to have to start again.

Monday, November 01, 2010

kale, revisited

Kale.  I love it.  This is not the first time I've sung it's praises on TLB.  I realize there are those of you who don't enjoy it and those who roll your eyes and those who think that I might even be faking how much I enjoy it.  But I'd venture to guess that you nay-sayers have never had kale prepared by someone who loves it.  We're not simply talking about old fashioned braised southern greens.  There are so many ways to prepare it, and I'm always reminded by the fall abundance in the farmers' markets just how much you can do with it.

Fried Kale with eggs

Heat two tablespoons olive oil and add two grated garlic cloves and one teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.  Saute for 30-60 seconds or until garlic is fragrant.  Do not let the garlic get brown because it will be in the pan for another 15 minutes and will have plenty of time to get yummy.  Add two heads of kale, chopped roughly, in small pieces.  Saute kale over medium heat- watching that it doesn't burn before it's fully cooked. It will go through a few different phases, softening and then starting to crisp up around the edges.  When it starts to get crispy, sprinkle it with the following 1/4 cup pine nuts, 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese and 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs.  You could use store bought, but not only do the fresh taste better, in this recipe the chunkiness of the crumbs add a great additional texture.  Lightly toss around the bread crumbs and cheese with the kale.  You don't need to go crazy stirring here, just make sure that each bit of kale is graced by pine nuts, bread crumbs and cheese.

Continue to saute on medium heat for another 2-3 minutes or until the pine nuts begin to brown.  When the cheese has melted in, spread the kale around the pan, creating four divots in which you will be able to crack and fry an egg.   Cook the egg to your favorite consistency.  Salt and pepper the egg as desired.  You won't need a lot of extra salt on the kale itself because of the other seasonings.  So taste it first to make sure you don't overdo it. 

Although this picture is not great, it will give you an idea of how I served it.   Frying the eggs in the kale worked out so well.  It was last minute impulse decision, but the crispy kale pieces nestled into the eggs.  Yummmm...  We were all fighting over the crsipy bits in the pan when this was done.  I served it with Nigella's salami pasta.  But it would be also great alone, split this into two portions with some good bread on the side to dip into the yolk.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tomah-toes are dying out.  We're into October and a few last fruits refuse to give up. At the farmers' market yesterday there were quarts of cherry tomah-toes, along with the fashionable green tomah-toes.  For the most part, I'm done consuming these lovely things until next summer.  The supermarket versions pale in comparison.  I have some roasted, frozen, dehydrated, and canned --preserved for needy times.  By the time I'm done with these this winter, I just might be willing to buy a clamshell of cherry tomatoes grown in a greenhouse.  On second thought...

With yesterday's provisions, I made this tart that seems more complicated than it is (my favorite kind of dinner).  Store-bought puff pastry makes this as simple as can be.  Roll out puff pastry to stretch it a bit.  In this case my pastry was round so I made it into a pie shape, but if yours is rectangular, work with that shape instead.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (convection if you have it).  Combine one pint fresh ricotta cheese, three eggs, one half cup parmesan, one finely chopped shallot (if you have it; if not, substitute your favorite related onion), two tablespoons chopped parsley, one teaspoon kosher salt, and as much freshly ground pepper as you desire.  Spread this filling in the center, leaving about two inches of pastry bare around the edge.  Fold up this edge pressing together the overlapping edges lightly with your fingers.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until puff pastry is fully cooked and filling is set.  Let cool for 15 minutes before serving. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

farmers' market wednesday

Produce excites me.  Beautiful produce brings a tear to my eye.  This is why I love the farmers' market.  Not only am I among all of this loveliness, but I am among others who love fresh fruits and vegetables so much that they dedicate most hours of their lives growing and selling it.  Now, I realize that I'm a food dork, and you might not be quite as dorky as me, but come on!  Look at the natural marketing of this chard. It doesn't need an ad campaign.  Bright yellow stems scream to be bought and tossed with garlic, crushed red pepper and salt in a saute pan and served over fresh pasta with a coarse grating of ricotta salata.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

mama's sick

It's a terrible thing when the captain of the ship can't keep up.  A cold doesn't keep me down;  I can power through something even a tad worse. A fever of 102.5, however, grounds me.  On the flip side, I never, I mean ever, sit on the couch in the middle of a weekday with my laptop. So while PBS is entertaining my little guy, I'm scanning around the internet and found a few new-to-me foodie sites.

don't have a good butcher around you? mail-order some.

(wow!) - check out that homemade pantry and music matches. a girl after my own heart.

The perfect pantry

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mea Culpa

I'm sorry, dear readers, that I disappeared and disappointed.  I would staunchly promise that it'll never happen again, but that would just be one more vow not maintainable.  Getting four kids started successfully and happily into a new school year has gotten the better of me.  It's not that I haven't been cooking. Oh no, my friend... There's been
  • ciabatta bread (sullivan street bakery recipe. no knead, 18 hour rise)
  • refrigerator rolls 
  • farmer john's favorite pumpkin bread 
  • kentucky chess pie  
  • cauliflower gratin
  • paella style rice with chorizo
  • clover peach pies (fried hand pies courtesy Lee Bros)
  • red velvet cake (also Lee Bros-- birthday request)
  • blueberry crisp ice cream (that's right, blueberry ice cream base, swirled with blueberry jam and crisp topping)
  • jam, jam and more jam (cherry almond, peach, apricot, blueberry bay, raspberry rhubarb, tomato chili...)
  • sauced tomatoes (quarts and quarts worth)
  • pickles (beets, summer's peak, cucumbers, watermelon rind)
  • hot sauce
  • Jamie Oliver's farro with roasted veg **** this is awesome. please try it or some version of it
  • carrot sheet cake (silver palate)
  • applesauce (for now and later)
  • homemade yogurt (topped with above jams)
  • dried herbs (with a new dehydrator)
  • matzoh ball soup (with homemade stock from homegrown chickens) 
  • not to mention, a whole greek night party - roasted beets with skordalia, stuffed peppers, spanokopita, lamb shanks and too much ouzo...
just to name a few.

I've also harvested my first honey, although it was less than I'd hoped for.  (Will try again soon and post.)  And also almost cleared my garden of it's goodies.  Basil for pesto now waiting in the freezer. Swiss chard and eggplants still growing. Potatoes and carrots to harvest.  Hens are laying -- three to four eggs per day.  At some point I can expect more, but for now I'm happy enough with that harvest.

And as usual, Zingerman's roadhouse tasting dinners never disappoint, especially the wonderful harvest dinners.  Fruits of Chef Alex's labors displayed on long buffets that make you wish for a larger plate.

Also this: just in!!  Chef Alex's mac and cheese voted best comfort food in America by Food Network.  Alton Brown's show, America's Best: Comfort Food just aired on September 20th, but I was at the taping on May 7th (and on the show for 3 seconds at the end as an unwavering fan) and managed to keep my mouth shut about it.

Tantre Farm is accepting forms for their fall and Thanksgiving shares.  Even if you are not a regular CSA member you can sign up for this.  I heartily recommend it.  Contact info is on the website.

A month has past, and I've been terrible at updating this blog.  It's all I can do not to pass out at night after I'm done with all that needs to be done. (cue - pathetic violin music.)  So here's my lofty, but loose, promise, that I will be writing again more regularly to share with you the lovely things that are going on in my kitchen and in Ann Arbor.

Monday, August 23, 2010

herbed farmer's cheese

A great nosher or lunchtime spread.

herbed farmer's cheese
makes 8 servings
time: 10 minutes (plus 30 minutes to rest)
adapted from Mark Bittman's The Minimalist Entertains

Puree one pound cold farmer's cheese (or fresh goat cheese or fresh cream cheese), 1/2 cup sour cream, and 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, one garlic clove in a food processor. (Alternatively mince the garlic and combine by hand with a whisk.)  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Taste again. 

Scrape into bowl and refrigerate until stiffened approx one hour.  Serve with crackers, lightly toasted pita or vegetable sticks. (Also try tossing with pasta or stuffing into chicken breasts.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

found in a2 :: bella italia

Bella Italia is not new for my family, but I thought I should give it a shout out for any locals. It's an awesome place for pizza, REAL pizza. It's a true New York/New Jersey style pizzeria, with pizza that tastes so good, you'd swear you were back home.  The calzones are fabulous too! 
Click on the link above to go to the website.  You can call in an order and pick it up for dinner.  It's located in the Colonade shopping plaza on Eisenhower Parkway.

Monday, August 16, 2010

the best buttermilk biscuits ever

Try this recipe on Joy the Baker's blog. It's been on there for over a year.  Apparently it's a family recipe, passed on by her dad.

And it was just perfect with a bowl of garden soup, fresh from my morning's harvest. 

P.S. Every single recipe on her site is fabulous.  Poke around a little bit while you're there.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

watch out! he might bite!

-seafood marinara for the gang-
When seafood is this fresh and tastes this good, all you need is a simple preparation. Shrimp and calamari poached in marinara sauce. Topped with chunks of fresh lobster.

Friday, August 13, 2010

T H E best lobster roll

I hate being a tourist. It makes me cringe, and I'll often go to considerable lengths to fake like I belong. But the truth of it is, I can't help but be a tourist. I don't live everywhere.

This translates to food too. I generally avoid the touristy restaurants- the traps that serve crappy food.
So when I found out that vineyard natives call Grace Church's Friday evening lobster rolls the best on the island, I knew where I was going to be.

See those hard-working Episcopalians back in the kitchen? That's where the magic happens. (Note that above the window to the kitchen hang a few of the awards that Grace Church has won for said lobster rolls.)

Lobster is so perfect by itself. All you really need is a little mayo and white pepper for a perfect sandwich.

This is how they package it so that you can take the sandwiches home. Someone's thinking outside the box.

And I'm almost certain we were the only tourists there. ;)

-- Posting From My iPhone (which takes terribly crappy pictures)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

on the bookshelf

This summer I've gotten into taking cookbooks out from the local library. There are so many good reasons for this. First off, I'm there once a week for the kids anyway.  I do it for novels; why not cookbooks?  Secondly, renewals make the books almost as good as mine. That is until one of you reads this and requests for me to have to return one of these.

Also, I've been known to buy a cookbook only to find one or two good recipes in it.  Often, I just get the feeling of a book and am able to recreate the general idea for a recipe or series of dishes.  It's not that I have a photographic memory and am making the exact recipe. The exposure to the photographs and the descriptive text leaves me with enough of a sense of what the author is going for.  It's not that I never follow an exact recipe.  I just tend to cook emotionally, not mathematically.  This is why I particularly enjoyed Michael Ruhlman's RATIO.  With the base of these formulas, your creativity can go wild. 

The mother in me suggests that you check out your local library to see if they have any of these in stock.  Your tax dollars at work. Otherwise peruse your local bookstore.  Or if you have to, I find Amazon to be the easiest way to get books into my house.  I've linked my blog with Amazon so that you can add them directly to your Amazon cart. Creepily easy. (The formatting for these book images won't align correctly, despite looking fine in the blog preview.) 

Below are a few of this summer's choices.  Keep tuned for this segment to return. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

a poultry photo essay

vegetarians beware.

(borrowing and driving a friend's pickup= my favorite part)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

BLT with a kick

Thank you, Tori, for the inspiration. An unopened container of Zingerman's pimento cheese was sitting in the fridge. Fresh luscious tomatoes from Tantre Farm graced the counter top. Bacon waiting in the freezer from The Pork Shop in Indiana. Zingerman's bakehouse white - sliced and ready to go. Dinner was already in my kitchen. Simply unassembled.

BLT (with pimento cheese instead of mayo)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I forgive you, garden.

I've been cursing my garden's lackluster performance this season. It seemed fine in the beginning, but just didn't take off the way I'd hoped and planned for. Even though I hear that other local amateur gardeners are suffering from the same blight, I was not satisfied. When I spend hours upon hours nursing tiny seeds in the basement in the middle of March, I expect a phenomenal bounty.

But this...
was my garden's peace offering this morning. And now, I forgive you, dear garden. Twas a lovely breakfast.

Looks like I'll have plenty of tomatoes, fennel, jalepenos, and potatoes. And there's always cucumbers. They're like the weeds of the vegetable garden. The plant just keeps giving even though you'd probably get sick if you ate that many.




Monday, July 26, 2010

Found in A2 :: Great Plains Burger Company

If you find yourself over on the east side of A2, you should definitely check out Great Plains Burger Co. on Plymouth road.
Food is quick and yummy. Good honest burgers, real fries, and Guernsey milk shakes.

(I'm a sucker for the boxes of fresh potatoes in the hallway.)

The meat tasted great - which is not something you can say about every fast burger. The website claims to procure beef from naturally raised Michigan cows. You're also given the option of turkey or black bean burger option, which people before and after me were also ordering. Everything is served on Zingerman's buns.
(options I chose this afternoon: blue cheese, sauteed onions and sauteed mushrooms)

If you've got a fussy kid, they have the hot dog and grilled cheese option. But with burgers like this, I'd push them to try the special.

--Posting From My iPhone

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

found in A2 :: zingerman's warehouse summer sale

Ann Arborites ::Zingerman'swarehouse has a summer sale during their slow season. I'm sorry I didn't report this earlier because there are only two weeks left. Every Friday you can head down to the location on 640 Phoenix Drive in Ann Arbor for the summer sale.

View Larger Map

Last week I got a great deal on iced coffee, bacon, comte, and olive oil that was nearly half off. The prices definitely make the drive worthwhile.

Also if you request to get put on their mailing list, you will receive an email earlier in the week with what they have on sale that Friday.

Monday, July 19, 2010

recipe review

The Minimalist's parmesan crackers:
very tasty - but I didn't roll them thin enough so they could have and should have been crispier

Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Berries
awesome - perfect summer dessert

more later. summer with four kids and no babysitter makes for less blogging time, among other things.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

sushi at home

I would not call myself an expert on sushi by any standards. I enjoy it, but it's not something I've grew up eating. Every time I eat it, I enjoy it more and more. I guess you could say it's growing on me. But what I've discovered is that it is so simple to make at home. The kids love the hands-on experience, and we also each get to tailor make our favorite version. When making it at home, I haven't ventured into the raw fish category yet. Something about little hands playing with expensive raw fish makes me a little nervous. As you can see in the photos, we did have leftover cooked salmon that some chose to include. Others of us stuck to veggies alone.

As far as ingredients, you'll need nori, sticky rice (mixed with a few tablespoons of sushi rice vinegar). You can go traditional japanese, or american -- california (cucumber, avocado, crab), new york (salmon, cream cheese, capers). Or you can just let your imagination go crazy.

If you're interested in trying it at home, check out this website, There's a great section on rolling instructions. For us it seemed easier to put the nori on the outside, of course you can also flip it and put the rice outside. It's a fun family cooking night, and definitely not as hard as you think.