Saturday, March 31, 2012

la primavera

Out and about in the warm sun this week with my trusty companions, I noticed a few promising developments.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bon Appetit

listening to
don't love the cheesy videos - but it's the easiest way to link the song
I've got to admit.  I have mixed feelings about Bon Appetit.  Sometimes it feels like "same-old, same-old".  January : low-fat easy dinner recipes.  March : spring recipes with fava beans and asparagus. No kidding? July : Independence day potato salad. November : how to keep a turkey's skin crisp but it's meat moist. We know, alreadyDon't get me wrong, I'm into the seasonal cooking schtick.  But the redundancy of these articles can be tiring.

However, in the recent future, and especially with the advent of the tablet version, I've noticed an updated fresh face of BA. Either they've hired new marketing and visual staff, or someone got a clue. 

I've been looking forward to visiting Nashville in the near future, so I was searching for spots to check out. Here's an example that caught my eye:  An interview with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, on why he loves Nashville, why he relocated there.  I love the conversation about the parallels between musicians and chefs.  "Every good chef... is a soulful person.  Either you sort of have that thing or you don't. Chefs and musicians don't like to be told what to do; don't like to have bosses. They're kind of crazy. They stay up all night."  Being both a musician and (a wanna-be) chef, I can say that he's seriously right on.  It's a cool edgy clip from February's online issue, and an example of the new face of BA.

Check it out.  Especially if you're already a print subscriber, I believe you have access to the digital tablet content.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Mona Lisa had babies yesterday! Two adorable little buggers, yet unnamed.

The timing is a little earlier than expected. We didn't know she was pregnant when we rescued her from the slaughter yard. But the babies look purebred so we're pretty sure that it wasn't the alpine buck who fathered these cuties.

You know what this means? Homemade chèvre in just a matter of weeks! Will have to brush off the cheese making books.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cecilia's pastries

On Tuesday night I took an eclair class at Cecilia's pastries. Why? Because I had recently tried to master making them in my own kitchen to no avail. They tasted okay, but we're not quite up to snuff. Naturally I was excited to see this class on her roster.

I'm not going to take you on a step by step recount of the class. Except to say that if you have the interest in learning about anything that Cecilia teaches, you should absolutely take one of her classes. She is a phenomenal teacher, instructing first by doing, then shadowing us as we attempted. Class sizes are small; ours was only three which allowed for much one on one time. She is so personable and friendly, quick to laugh and banter with her husband who helps facilitate the classes. I certainly understand why her classes are so popular. After taking one, I can't wait to do another.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Egg central

When you live on a farm - even just an small chicken farm - there are days of surplus and days of want. We've just come out of a few weeks where the hens were being stingy with the egg production. Since the storm, more probably just since the consistent warm weather, we're back in business and getting a dozen per day.

When 6:15 rolled around, I started to hear the cries of "I'm hungry". Typically I have things sizzling or boiling by then, but this mid-afternoon I'd allowed myself 30-45 minutes of resting on the couch -- a rare occurrence around here.

I was looking for something quick and easy and vaguely remembered a recipe that I had seen on Saveur: spaghetti with browned butter and fried eggs. I don't know if this actually something eaten in Italy, but the concept is totally Italian- use what you have in excess. We have eggs...

I boiled a pound of spaghetti and fried ten eggs in a mixture of olive oil and butter, being careful not to pop the egg yolks. I also did not flip the eggs because I really wanted to preserve the sultry goodness of the yolk. When the pasta was drained (and a little pasta water reserved), I tossed it with some of the brown butter and then slid the pan full of eggs on top of the platter. Topped with a generous handful of grated parmaggiano and freshly cracked black pepper, it was gorgeous. I served it in bowls partially full of baby spinach leaves. Unfortunately I only snapped a phone photo of one plate before the urchins started digging in.

It's the sort of dish that's painfully simple, yet elegant enough that it would appear on a menu.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dorothy, we are not in Kansas anymore

Judy Garland
nobody's version beats hers

Can you imagine the emotional roller coaster of my last 24hours? For a week I'd been pumped to help Chef Alex cook at SELMA breakfast cafe. What an opportunity for me?! On Thursday, about an hour before I was supposed to go to the restaurant to help him prep for 200 people hungry for Friday's breakfast, the weather started to concern me. 81 degrees on March 15. Thunder with no rain. Super dark skies. Typical storm pattern for a hot late summer afternoon-- only it's not summer.

I left the house keeping the children behind for ten minutes since Daddy was on his way home, got about a mile away, and realized that no, this was not AT All typical. Doubled back to the house after calling Alex to apologize that I thought I indeed needed to stay home with the little ones. When I turned the car around and headed back home, I saw the beast: a tornado, an honest-to-goodness funnel cloud. Seemed really close to my house-- probably more like a mile away, based on where the current damage is. Forty miles per hour instantaneously doubled to eighty, so that I could get back to the house before the twister. If the ship was going down, or up as it might be, the captain was going up with it. Scrambled everyone into the back room; they were already in the basement because of the original severe thunderstorm warning.

The bottom line is that by some miracle we were spared. Some who live close to me were not so lucky. At this point officials are reporting that there are no injuries or fatalities (!), but that 60 houses were damaged or destroyed. Part of my afternoon today was spent bringing lunches to the volunteers cleaning up the disaster zone.

That being said, this tale was not supposed to be the blog post for today. Being Alex's sous-chef was.

I adore SELMA cafe, love the vibe, the food, Lisa and Jeff. Ann Arbor is lucky to have a couple like them. This is not my first post about the nationally renown "breakfast salon". For me being given the opportunity to cook with Alex, number one, is out of this world. A true honor for a nobody like me. But number two, to do it in that venue! Wow. Do you understand why I did not sleep last night? Adrenalin of tornado coming too close for comfort, and anticipation of such a morning.

It went wildly well, served breakfast to just under 200 hungry people. And ah, the chaos. Normal for a restaurant kitchen, I'm sure, but my kitchen tends to run a little bit quieter. Not much. I thrive on chaos like that of cooking at SELMA. I suppose that part of the reason it feels so right is that for just a few moments, the chaos inside my head matches the outside chaos. This definitely served as confirmation to follow my instinct into the world of cooking.

Alex's menu this morning:
1) Johnny cakes (made of heirloom cornmeal from Rhode Island) cheesy eggs with local ricotta, sausage patties from Cornman pigs.
2) potato and squash latkes with eggs florentine, topped with roasted Cornman peppers and Parmesan. Also served with Cornman piggie.

Other regular options that Lisa always provides are: bread pudding with fruit, waffles, tacos sanchos, or vegan granola.

We're still without power so I apologize if this comes across as sloppy because I'm writing from my phone. But I just had to get my thoughts down before the buzz disappears. Will edit and add links later. After I find Toto.

Lisa's blog post about the morning: on the Selma Blog
for posterity's sake, I'm including this phone photo taken by someone behind Busch's in Dexter

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hipstamatic quickie

Up close and personal with Chef Alex's mincemeat pie from Saturday night's 'American meat' event dinner :: my mother would have adored this...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Detroit's alive #3

Yes, Detroit is largely in shambles, but there are glorious little pockets of life and food in Dtown proper, and of course, in bustling metro-Detroit.  Everytime I'm reading online reviews of food opportunities in the area, I keep stumbling on bloggers devoting their musings to food in Detroit.

Eat it Detroit! is a blog, new to me - with dozens of suggestions of restaurants in the larger metro Detroit area.  Check it out!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


listening to Lady Day 
Billie Holiday collection # 1

Sorry for the delay, ladies and gents. 

I've been reading and scanning food bits online, five minutes at a time when I get a chance.  Some weeks, there's more opportunity than others.  With a big mug of sweet & milky earl grey by my side, I'll update you.

  • Oh my, MIETTE. You taste as good as you look.  That's a rare compliment.  Typically fancy french-y kind of baking doesn't satisfy my taste buds as much as the eyeballs. But WOW.  Check out the photos she's posted on her FB page.  Amazing.  More Ann Arbor talent shines! If you're at the Kerrytown farmers market, or are a customer of Lunasa, please order from Miette.  You will not be sorry.  We've particularly enjoyed the brioche rolls and the chocolate ganache tart.   And stay tuned to her on FB, because a little birdie told me there's some exciting news in her (and our) future! 
  • Need to know how to make Mozzarella?  John Loomis is your man (follow him on Twitter).  My daughter and I spent last Saturday afternoon with him at Zingerman's creamery.   Definitely worth it.  The products we went home with were amazing.  For dinner we thickly sliced our homemade mozzarella and put it on a Zing French baguette, spread black olive tapenade and drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.  Wow.  Even if you don't make your own mozzarella, buy some fresh this a.m. and make this sandwich for lunch.  
  • Why care about being a locavore?  I know some cynics are wondering what the hype is all about.    
  • Going to see AMERICAN MEAT tonight, so more about that later.  But I'm grossly excited to see this expose.  Me going to watch this is a little like the choir being in the front row at church, but I want to stay informed and be able to explain with evidence why this topic is important to me. 
  • To that end I've joined a meat CSA called Bending Sickle Farm. I payed 5 months in advance when I picked up the first share in February.  Pork chops, ham hock (with quite a lot of meat on it), ground pork, goat stew meat (looking forward to a curry with this), leaf lard, and a slab bacon.  So far everything has tasted and looked great. If you're like me, it makes for happy eating to know your meat was treated well during it's life.
I've tried:
yogurt cake ~ Chocolate & Zucchini - a standard (almost bland) cake that is 'the first that every French child learns to bake'.  With raspberry coulis, lemon curd and whipped cream, it was enjoyable.  I didn't fall in love with this gateau, but i adore this delightful blog and cookbook. 

kinda classic coleslaw ~ Smitten Kitchen for fish fry night- 'not your mama's' because of the blue cheese.  Instead of celery seed I grated a celeriac root.  I prefer the celery a background note - not the harsh black seeds that stick in your teeth and get burped up for hours.

butterscotch pudding ~ David Lebowitz - a favorite oldie but goodie that can't seem to stay in this house for more than a day. 

Dinner last night: 
Bending sickle ground pork browned til crispy, with rosemary, crushed red pepper, and slivered garlic, sauteed broccoli raab, and pecorino romano served over boccatini. 

Looking forward to:
SEMBA beekeepers conference : next weekend
Cecelia Pastries class on Eclairs : March
Joel Salatin @ Michigan Theater : April
BaconFest Michigan : June
River Cottage !! Cheese Making Class : June